Nebraska

William Cody, aka Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill Cody Image via Wikipedia

Out here in Nebraska, we’re pretty proud of our land. We’ll readily grant that it is not overly pretty, like  Pennsylvania hills with all the trees and winding roads and such.

This is a land for strong, independent people, men and women alike. Our forefathers settled here, smart people that they were, only after they had figured out how to get crop (and cattle) to market. If you didn’t know, the Ogallala trail from Texas to Montana went through Ogallala.

It can be tough out here, yes, and lonely too, but it’s by no means ugly. If you think so, you don’t understand the miracle of nature and man; how this state can raise corn to feed a considerable portion of the world while simultaneously feeding some of Earth’s best cattle, and as an afterthought making fuel for your car, too.

In truth, most of us find I-80 boring, too. Iowans won’t admit it in public but, they feel the same way. Corn in the mass, just isn’t that interesting, I find myself patrolling power lines and identifying center pivots by brand and model, to keep it somewhat interesting. Parenthetically, did you know that center pivots are a Nebraska invention, shortly after World War Two, and are all made in Nebraska.

But if you get out of the Platte Valley, you can find the wondrously pretty Sandhills to the north, go in the spring or after a thunderstorm, they do get somewhat brown in high summer.

South of the Platte, there are also hills, lots of trees, there’s great hunting all over, even some land that we’d guess a white man has never seen. You can even find the spot where Buffalo Bill Cody took Grand Duke Alexis of Russia hunting, It’s west of Maywood where the road crosses Frenchmen’s Creek.

But to me the coolest thing about Nebraska is the sky, huge and ever-changing, you’ll find yourself taking a longer outlook on life because the horizon is so far. The prairie, even when planted as cropland, is ever-changing and distant views are common out here.

If you stay a while, you’ll understand our obsession with the weather: blizzards, ice storms, spring floods and desperate drought, throw in a few tornadoes and it’s never boring. As we say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 30 minutes”. And you’ll never forget our wind. What we call a breeze, the effete residents of the eastern states call a gale.

This is the real Nebraska: Strong men and women struggling with a strong stubborn land to wrest good things from it for ourselves and others.

Oh, yes, and college football. Although ‘Go Big Red’ isn’t quite as satisfying as ‘Boiler Up’.

Anyway, this came up because I ran across an Article from Matthew Miller at The Curator”, who also has some feelings on this:

Recently Tim Siedell, otherwise known as @badbanana, otherwise known as Nebraska’s most successful Twitter comedian, initiated the hashtag #NewNebraskaSlogan. (If you’re not of the Twitterati: a hashtag is a way of linking topics across the site, frequently used for memes.) I found the jokes both amusing and annoying, having learned to be wary of my home state coming into the public eye. Too many knee-jerk assessments of the Midwest run to “corn and cattle,” “flyover country,” or “purgatory”—all of which showed up under the marker #NewNebraskaSlogan. I enjoyed Siedell’s tweets (“Keep Driving to Colorado, Hippie”), but the many contributions from his fans quickly became irritating. If I could learn to consistently adopt the wry, self-deprecatory attitude that Siedell and other notable Midwesterners like Ted Kooser and Michael Perry have attained, I could laugh along with everyone else—but I’m afraid I’m not that sanguine. Like any good loyalist, I’m perfectly willing to laugh when we’re making fun of ourselves, but I can’t stand to hear mockery from outside.

I’m particularly irritated by dismissive remarks directed at the landscape of the Great Plains. I really think the Great Plains are beautiful, and I’m surprised how few people share my views, even other Midwesterners. Many non-Midwesterners seem to feel it’s socially acceptable to remark to my face how ugly, flat and boring they find my home state. Complain about our lack of high culture or our obsession with college football, and I’ll let it slide and even sympathize (although: Go Big Red). Call my state ugly or boring, though—the more common complaints—and you begin to make me angry. Kansans and Iowans know this phenomenon as well: it’s aggravating to say the least to make chit-chat about how boring one’s home state is to drive across, and yet we do it all the time.

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