Early fall is a great time to visit the Flint Hills. The weather is usually wonderful, “the hills” are at their fall finest, the fish are usually biting, the baseball playoffs are ongoing, and football is everywhere. Consequently, I’m usually in a fine fettle — providing I’m not thinking about politics.
Of course, as I’m writing this column, the government shutdown is in its second week and our great nation could fall into fiscal default if the self-serving political hacks we keep electing in both parties fail to come to some kind of agreement for the common good on these all-important matters.
Nonetheless, in the past two weeks, we’ve welcomed and enjoyed friends from New Mexico, Texas, and, yes, even New Englanders from Maine. Those “Mainers” had never visited the Flint Hills before, so I got the opportunity to be a personal tour guide to the tall grass prairie and also Kansas State University in Manhattan.
The Maine folks have four wonderful, energetic, inquisitive home-schooled children who were full of questions about all things related to the ecology and the geology of the Flint Hills. They ended up heading for home with baggies of seed from these grasses — big bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, and silver bluestem, plus a bag of Illinois bundleflower seed and a bag of mixed prairie wildflower seed. I doubt that any of the seed will survive the Maine climate, but the children plan to find out next growing season. They also took home a few limestone fossils.
One of the days they were here, we visited the world-renowned Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kan. I’m embarrassed to say I’d never been there before and that was my loss because we all got a wonderful education on the history of rocketry, space travel, interstellar investigations, and a session on the constellations in the Milky Way and into the vast universe beyond our galaxy. In addition, we got to see a good selection of America’s rockets, fighter airplanes, and the kids got to experience a ride in an astronaut training module. It wuz a fine day all around. The Texan accompanying the Mainers is both father and grandfather to members of the group, an engineering graduate of KSU, and a devotee to the Flint Hills.
The New Mexico visitor wuz my old college and bizness friend Albie Kirkey. His reason for visiting is the same as ever — catch fish, catch up on our families, relive old stories, retell old lies, and eat in excess.
We did all the above, but we did not catch near as many fish as in previous falls. However, we managed to send home a goodly amount of fresh fish fillets, and he did catch five bass ranging from 5.5-pounds to 3-pounds, while I got virtually skunked, so he wuz happy about that turn of events. The weather wuz fine, but the fish were not cooperating very well and, I guess, we’ll never know why.
However, all in all, the real joy of hosting old friends is to renew friendships.
On to other subjects. The hundreds of television channels available to watch these days are all chock full of advertisements. Apparently, not many folks watch TV as I do or the ad salesman and folks at the ad agencies would be in the welfare line. By pre-recording shows and athletic events, or by simply pausing a show for 15 or 20 minutes and then restarting to watch the show, it’s rare that I watch any television advertising. I figger that at my age, I have better ways to occupy my time than watching two to four minutes of boring advertisements every 10 to 15 minutes.
With my system of TV viewing, I can watch a pro or college football game in about an hour and never miss a play. I can watch a baseball game and never have to endure the ads or commentary drivel between innings. I can watch a golf tournament is less than half the time and never watch an ad. I can watch an hour-long entertainment or “blood and guts” TV show is about 40 minutes.
I fully realize that advertising pays the bills for most media, so I’m glad lots of folks don’t watch TV like I do. I look at it this way — they are subsidizing my way of life for a change.
Thanks for this humor provided by my Lakewood, Colo., buddy Jay Esse. Jay sez he has a friend who recently told him, “The government is worried about how much I eat, how much alcohol I drink, how much I smoke, and how much I spend, while at the same time wanting more money from me than I make. Heck, I might as well move back in with my ex-wife.”
Since I’m ending up on the subject of wives, I’ll conclude this week with some wise words about wives. The ancient philosopher Socrates said, “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” And, some guy named Franz Schubert said, “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend is his wife.” And speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag.” Amen! Have a good ’un. ❖