#2 Lawrence, Kansas
Ramsey and dogs along the Kansas River… the house
Time has flown by since we made it to Lawrence, Kansas November 22nd. Thanksgiving was our new pod: myself, James, our son Ramsey, his wife Erin, their gorgeous one-month-old daughter Fiona, Erin’s mother Nancy, our daughter Isabel and three excellent dogs.
We are enjoying Fiona, going for walks in the countryside of Kansas, exploring the environs of Lawrence and Kansas University, buying food at the funky local coop, cooking it, drinking wine, and sleeping. Those who work work weekdays on Zoom. It’s a weird world where we are continuing our isolated Covid lives in a completely new space, with new people, including a very small one that needs constant attention. It is a nice change-up by all accounts. Best of all Isabel had time to bond with her new niece before flying back to her masters program in teaching in Boston yesterday.
Kansas is different from Boston, but the small US university-town vibe of Lawrence is recognizable: lots of Biden and Black Lives Matter posters, excellent bookstores, local brew pubs, ethnic restaurants, bookstores and a really good yarn store on Massachusetts Street, the main drag through town. Turns out Lawrence was named for Lawrence, Mass, and founded as a city on the hill by abolitionists from New England, who hoped to make Kansas a free state in the slave-holding territory surrounding it. They were not very welcome and suffered a massacre, but, hey, that was a long time ago. Their liberal spirit survives today.
The feeling and countryside surrounding the city is open and wild. The trees and the plains are new to me; I am particularly struck by the ochres, browns and greys and the chalky blue sky and the endless vistas. KU is a huge well-funded state university with handsome limestone buildings built at the turn of the century. A tremendous football stadium inscribed with the rallying cheer “Rock Chalk, Jay Hawk!” sits in the middle. Thanks to Covid there are no Jay Hawks or anyone to yell the cheer. The campus is eerily deserted and the dorms and fraternity row look lonely on the quiet hill of “Mt” Oread.
Yesterday I drove Isabel to the airport. We left the confines of liberal Lawrence and drove into stripped-out mall-like developments nestled in the plain outside Kansas City. One huge store.. about the size of Walmart….listed its wares on one side: rifles, hand guns, knives.. the store was called “Frontier Justice” as we saw when we rounded the corner and saw it’s huge sign. I guess a tip-off is that the KU buildings have “the carrying of open firearms in this building is prohibited” stickers next to the admonition of “no smoking” on the doors. Frontier Justice lives.
We feel incredibly lucky to be here as the world heats up with Covid and loneliness and hard times are rampant. The plan is to stay through the weekend and then push on in the van to Oregon to see James’ family in Portland.
Isabel collecting decorations for Thanksgiving
A baby! So exciting. The many faces of a one month old.
KU football Stadium On the door of a KU Campus building
Isabel behind the Art Museum. Downtown Lawrence
The Pod……… Nancy setting the table for Thanksgiving………Ramsey Erin and Fiona x-mas card