Today I am good and tired.
The kind of tired that comes from doing things you enjoy. From physical work and accomplishment. A tired that is diametrically opposed to what you feel as a result of stress, anxiety and managing the daily grind. A “good” tired.
I have spent the past four days in St. John, Kansas. Blink twice as you drive through and you will miss it. Population 1295. It is the living definition of a small town, but it is one of my favorite places in the world.
St. John is home. I grew up there. Worked and explored on our family’s Christmas tree farm. Played basketball, ran cross country and track, and graduated from St. John High School (with twenty-two awesome peers). Met my wife there. This small town holds many milestones and memories.
We visit at least a couple of times each year, but this past year the pandemic threw a wrench in our usual travel itinerary. We missed our summer trip, as well as our annual Christmas visit. Being away from Kansas — and family — for that long has been a challenge. One with which I am certain many of you are familiar (perhaps not the part about Kansas).
But, as things began to calm down a bit this spring and with the availability of vaccines, I decided to make a quick trip to visit my family in Kansas. It was a good decision.
I spent four ordinary, but eventful days in central Kansas.
I experienced the usual weather fluctuations that are a normal aspect of life in Kansas. Sunshine. Clouds. Relative warmth. Frigid cold. Rain. Snow. And wind. Lot’s of wind. Every day a little different, but ample opportunity to enjoy time inside by the fire (something that doesn’t occur often in Tempe, Arizona).
There was a lot interesting conversation about a wide variety of topics. Time spent trying to learn Fortnite with my nephews and niece (I am a poor student who demonstrated a lack of growth). We fished for trout in my brothers pond during a bitterly cold rain shower. I helped plant a couple thousand trees on the Christmas tree farm that my brother and his wife now own and operate (I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post). It was good to remember how hard that work can be and feel the relief and pride that comes at the end of a day of physical labor. I now have muscles that have their own sore muscles.
We watched movies (The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again and Hoosiers) and a little of the NCAA basketball tournament. I took a quick trip into nearby Pratt, Kansas with my mother-in-law and visited with her in-person for the first time in over a year. Each evening, I slept in my old bedroom in the basement of my parent’s home. It was a few degrees below comfortable. The perfect conditions for sleeping when you throw on a heavy blanket. I finished my visit with a couple hours of fishing with my brother and nephews at my in-laws pond. I lost count of the number of small bass we caught (we are working on a plan to grow them bigger) and I managed to reel in a couple of green sunfish. It was a great way to conclude my Kansas spring break.
I am writing this on my return flight to Arizona — catching one last glimpse of Kansas farmland slipping away beneath the wing of the airplane. In spite of the challenges of the past year, I am thankful for the opportunity to be around those I love and have missed. This trip was a reminder to be grateful for all of the little things that not everyone gets to experience.
It will be good to get back and see my wife and daughter and settle back into our routines. And, I have another day to rest before returning to the hustle of work life. But, for now, I am going to relax and enjoy being good and tired.
Until next time, Kansas.