Now I did it. I missed a month. My apologies for not sending anything in January, but our minds here were so occupied with the next phase of our lives that Kansas became just a background for awhile. David has now had three interviews (Kansas City, Boston, and Lebanon, New Hampshire). Boston seems to be pretty high on the list so far, but there are more interviews and negotiations to come. I'll keep you posted.
Now back to Kansas and its number one topic: the weather. And Kansas weather had lots of surprises again. Two weeks ago it sent us a massive ice storm that coated everything in ice. The prairie takes on a very interesting look when every blade of grass is coated in ice. The next day the sun came out and the rays of the sun reflected through each blade of grass made it even more spectacular. The whole place looked like one big crystal palace. It was truly magical. To preserve the ice, we then got very cold weather with temperatures staying way below the freezing point. At night it got as cold as -1 F (-19 C). The roads were ice skating rinks and many cars ended up in the ditches.
Then came the snow. One foot of snow does not sound so much, but when it blows it can create huge piles. This snow storm was unusual because the snow came from the east. For our farmstead it meant that all the snow of the huge wheat field to our east side ended up in our yard. For two days we were truly snowed in. I always wanted to be snowed in here. I would have preferred to have David here with me, but David was in Boston interviewing. David's parents then managed to get through to us with a four wheel pickup. David's father tried to open the snow drift with the antique tractor that we have here, but he did not have much luck. We then were able to get the local rock quarry guy to come out with his big equipment and shovel us out. Unfortunately, the next day the wind changed and blew the road shut again. This time our neighbor's son who is Lars' age came to pick up Lars with a big John Deere tractor and used the loader to plough a path through the snow drifts.
Today is the 5th day in two weeks that school has been cancelled. The kids think this is the greatest thing. Between skating on the ice, sledding, and building snow forts, they will always remember these two weeks as a very special time in Kansas. In contrast to the city, the snow here stays immaculately white and the sun usually comes out right after the storm passes on which makes for a very splendid landscape. The sun on this unending expanse of white snow makes it so bright that you cannot go outside without sunglasses. And since there is so much space, you can not only build one snow fort, but two, three, four .... your muscle and will power are the limit. Then, if you shovel out roads between the forts, it starts to look like a snow city. It really is great fun for adults and kids alike.
Following the very cold temperatures we were hoping to get rid of the very annoying boxelder bugs that are hibernating in the south wall of this old house. However, the wall must not have got cold enough because on the first day that the sun warmed up the wall, they woke up again. Unfortunately, many of them find a way into the house and like to take excursions to the the kitchen and bathroom. Boxelder bugs are small black and red beetles that get their name from the boxelder tree on which they feed. They are a common pest in the Midwest and although I don't know where the closest boxelder tree is, they seem to all come to this house for hibernation. They don't bite or do any damage, but after awhile swirling boxelder bugs can become extremely annoying.
The wide snow covering and the bitter cold are hard for wild animals. You see pheasants and turkeys bunched up in big groups, trying to find as much cover as possible. We even saw two bald eagles close to the house that were eating on some kind of dead animal. David spotted them first. With his eyesight he thought that the kids were out in the field and indeed the eagles are as big as Cecile. They are very impressive birds.
I was going to have a chance to get to know Kansas City (5 hours from here) as well when David had to interview there. Unfortunately, I came down with the stomach flu as soon as I got there and can only report about the hotel room which had a lovely view on a snow covered Country Club Plaza. On our way back David drove through some of the nicer parts of Kansas City which are actually very pretty. Hilly country with lots of trees and splendid old mansions that are actually affordable. A little further out though it is all new developments and all houses seem to look alike. Houses that seem too big for their small lot with a 2-3 car garage dominating the whole architecture, accentuated by an almost total lack of landscaping. Mixed impressions from just a short drive through Kansas City.
On a recent visit to the local steakhouse in Smith Center, David and I laughed so hard when we got the bill that it made our bellies ache. David had eaten smoked pork chops with mashed potatoes and I had ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. The bill came and listed: "chops and mush" for David and "foul thing" (fowl misspelled) for me. Good thing we had eaten already, with that description the food would have not tasted very good. I guess we should be grateful that we still have a few restaurants here, there are counties west of here that have even lost their last restaurant.