NPR logo The Sunflower State

The Sunflower State

What's left of the Tallgrass Prairie. Source: BarrieJH hide caption

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Source: BarrieJH

I've been on the East Coast my whole life: raised in Boston, steadily moving down I-95. But this Labor Day I spent in Kansas, visiting the family home of my significant other (he's a native Kansan). There's lots to love about Kansas: wide, open spaces, rolling hills, "amber waves of grain." The East Coast is so crowded... something I was never quite so aware of until I saw Kansas' wide, expansive fields and prairies, interspersed with small towns and sprinkled with grain elevators, silos, and public schools. It was refreshing. I ate barbecue (albeit in Missouri), saw where KU plays, and... shot a .22. It's interesting, because growing up in Boston, guns aren't around — if they are, it's on the front page and usually linked with tragedy. But out in the middle of the country, it was oddly fun to take aim at a target (a soda can, don't worry), and try to knock it off the fence. It turns out that Easterners aren't good shots (with the possible exception of transplant John Brown), or maybe it's just me. But my trip to the Sunflower State knocked one thing off my life list — shoot a gun. I always wanted to do it once, just to understand, what it felt like. It turns out for me, that it doesn't feel much different then archery practice — and I'm still a terrible shot.