Notes on Kansas

lightning during nighttime

Photo by Johannes Plenio on

It was 1:30 am, and I was eating donuts and pretending I was still a teenager. It was a funny little donut shop. With its outdated wallpaper, random mugs hanging on the wall, and old paneling, it reminded me of somebody’s basement, mostly finished back in the ’70s, and then forgotten.

Apparently the place doesn’t even open until 11 pm.

I was hanging out with my roommate Kim’s youth group, and when they suggested a donut run, I couldn’t resist the enchanting allure of midnight donuts. But then, after those midnight donuts were ingested, there were storm warnings and we all got worried and scuttled off towards home.

Thankfully I wasn’t driving, because there were warnings of hail and severe winds and all sorts of frightening things. We drove straight into the storm, and I sat in the back seat, mesmerized by the purple. It was everywhere, in bursts of lighting that lit the entire sky.

I’m remembering, now. If you want to be awed by mountains or oceans you go to Oregon, but if you want to be awed by the weather, you to to the Midwest.

One Oregon night a few years ago there was intense, sky-splitting lightening, and no one in my family could sleep. We all ended up on the front porch in the middle of the night, watching it together. And yet that lightning was perhaps only half as intense as this stuff.

For some reason I ended up in either the East or the South this entire year, so I’m glad I decided to get a small taste of the Midwest before heading home.

Wait…what all states are considered to be “Midwest?” I just googled. Ohio is part of the Midwest? How?

In my brain, the Midwest ends with Illinois. In my brain, the Midwest is where land is flat and roads are straight and everyone waves at everyone and you say “hi” to every Mennonite you see and folks are chill and the weather in the spring is absolutely crazy. Where Mennonite communities are not so isolated as they are in the West, but they’re not piled up on top of each other either.

If you are from Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, etc, do you think of Ohio as part of your Midwestern culture? I’m just an ignorant Oregonian who knows nothing about this.

I’ve been here for two weeks, and it’s been absolutely magical. Not because of the weather or the people or the midnight donuts, but because I’ve feltย so healthy.ย 

Health is such a funny thing. All of the things I dislike about life–all my feelings of incompetence, or loneliness, or the burden of having a to-do list that I can never possibly finish–seem to quietly become not-big-deals if I’m feeling healthy.

Maybe Kansas has a magical climate that is perfectly suited to my health.

Although, after experimenting with so many climates and houses this year, I’ve come to the conclusion that my health woes are probably not related to climates and mold and things external to me.

I think–sad as this sounds–I think that my body is just not suited to the nomadic life I crave.

Stress makes me sick. It has, ever since my West Nile days.

My last week in Lancaster I got horribly sick–the worst of this whole trip–but I felt a strong conviction that after I recovered I was going to have a time of wellness.

That’s what I’ve had, so far, in Kansas. The sort of wellness that allows me to eat donuts with teenagers at 1:30 am.

12 responses to “Notes on Kansas

  1. Ok, Ohio is definately eastern, not part part of the Midwest. Google, how dare you. ๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kylie Headings

    It was great having you with us last night on the donut run!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿค—

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course the climate is magical! Well, ok, maybe not, but my personal belief is that Kansas is much more delightful than anyone gives her credit for. Most people see only the flat and the cows and the telephone poles and don’t get any further than that. I’m glad you’re there, and I’m wondering if you’ll be there over wheat harvest? That’s the best time of year in Kansas.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Darlene Miller

    Hmmmm, you have been to our part of Missouri, and you think the roads in the Midwest are all flat and straight? ๐Ÿ˜‰ LOL! I think you need to come back for a refresher visit! Wink! And no, Ohio is decidedly eastern in my mind, although I knew it is technically considered Midwest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Sara Smucker

      You got me there, LOL. I was mostly remembering the weather. But you have to admit, the roads in Missouri are not like Ohio and PA roads.


  5. Why didn’t you ask Ohio people if they consider themselves to be in the mid west?


    • Emily Sara Smucker

      I certainly don’t mind hearing Ohioans’ opinions on the matter, but I feel like the core group has better authority on who is and who isn’t a part of the core, much more than the fringe does.


  6. IMO, if any part of the state you are in (or all of it) is in the Eastern time zone, you are no longer in the Midwest. ๐Ÿ™‚ There may be other qualifiers or disqualifiers (is that a word?), but that’s what I generally think of first.


    • Emily Sara Smucker

      So interesting. I realized yesterday, as I talked to my roommate, that that’s how I think of it too.


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