Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're in Nebraska...seriously.

I enjoyed the ride south of Topeka. We ventured into a Prairie Grass Preserve. From afar the grass appears to be a blanket offering not more than a few inches of greenery. Looking out across the swaying landscape there is open space as far as the eye can see. The wind blows constant and generates a comforting shushing or hum between the grass, almost a soothing vibration. In every direction all I saw was grass. It was kind of a surreal moment. Far in the distance I could almost make out the towers of some electric cables, but they appeared totally out of place, so my mind’s eye just erased them and the vision was superb. I began dreaming of what the prairie might have looked like hundreds of years ago when the Native Americans inhabited the land. The phenomena of bison stampeding over the rolling hills must have been an awesome sight to behold. I also pondered how difficult life must have been for the first settlers to live in such a harsh climate, the wind is unrelenting, the grasses can grow up to six feet tall! A plethora of ferrets, birds, snakes, and rodents could (and still do) hide anywhere, and bison are notoriously territorial. Under the grass is rock, not conducive to farming and the land is prone to flooding. It would have been a difficult undertaking to sustain one’s self and one’s family with little or no resources. Back at the Capitol Building in Topeka there is an impressive bronze statue honoring the women of the frontier. It shows a woman with a bonnet sitting erect with a babe wrapped under her arm, a musket across her lap, a dog by her feet and her spare arm draped over the shoulder of a boy. She wears a bold look of courage and physical strength. Women back then were tough. I doubt dainty got them very far. It was a nice reminder that characteristics like fortitude, discipline and stamina were both necessary and admired. All too often the strength of a woman’s character is either unnoticed because of the outer package or dismissed as an unbecoming. This statue was a nice reminder that the backbone of this country was built on the resolve of women, who worked just as hard as the men they tended. While I bare no children, I do tend to favor the strength of my character, which has been the paramount of my accomplishments. I felt a kinship with this statue. Thank you, Topeka, for this striking tribute. (Oh, and along the way we visited the birthplace of Amelia Earhart-talk about strong women!) We landed in Omaha two days ago. Many of you know I have a strong aversion to all things Nebraska related. I did a clinical rotation up here during the dead of winter, the experience left a dull flakey taste in my mouth. I remember being so cold that my feet felt frostbitten, and that was before I even got out of bed. Wind is one thing, wind and ZERO degree temperatures are hell. I used to call Torben in Florida when I was shivering and barely able to see through the dark sleet. He would joyously tell me about the beautiful sunny day he was enjoying at the lake, meanwhile I could hear birds chirping happily in the background. Ugh. I was so envious I used to just hang up on him. (Good thing he gets me.) Needless to say, I was not that enthusiastic to return to this state, and would have been completely happy to have avoided it, save for one thing. Torben loves his Gators, and I have to admit I have willingly adopted rooting for the team. Well, they made it to the College World Series in Omaha. Hello Nebraska. Omaha is the birthplace of President Ford. Torben was thrilled to visit the home/memorial, as he campaigned for him and the Republican Party (I know, shocking, Republican, right?) when he was only 14 years old! My baby has done some cool stuff. He said he was so excited when his parents let him go; he piled into a bus with a bunch of Florida college kids and traversed the south. To this day it is one of his cherished memories.

The home/monument is beautiful and there is of course, a rose garden donated by his wife. We also had a moment there amidst our appreciation where we looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh scornfully, for obvious reasons. There are several marble constructs with the names of each President etched with care. I think this picture says it better than I ever could:

"Obamaha" is a bustling metropolis and I am pleased to report that once again my expectations have been shattered and I am grateful. It is complete with beautiful and well manicured parks, venues for large scale performances and the most enthusiastic baseball fans I have ever seen. Tens of thousands of people from all over the city and neighboring states have descended on Rosenblatt Stadium. This stadium has been hosting these championship games for over 60 years and the locals have season tickets to these games alone. In true Madson fashion, we arrived late on the scene and the party was well underway. We are accustomed to tailgating in the football season, but I have to say, these guys rivaled any we’ve seen. The nice thing is that fans and teams from all over the country were gathered together in good spirit. Of course we didn’t have tickets, but we lucked out with rock star parking near the stadium and something told us it was going to be a good day. Torben, who never knows a stranger, made friends with everyone strutting Gator orange and blue and in no time we had tickets on the third base line. I jumped for joy and appreciation, as we were NOT looking forward to joining the 2 mile long line waiting for general admission (Seriously, 2 miles and well over 20,000 people for 5,000 seats…um, no thank you.). For anyone who appreciates sports tradition, the Rosenblatt Stadium is a wonder, with incredible views of Omaha. This is the last year it will be in use, as construction for a newer, bigger (read: more expensive) stadium is already underway. When talking to the locals, most were sad that tradition of the stadium was ending. There were some die-hard baseball fans, and they likened it to losing Wrigley or Fenway, which I imagine would just devastate the community. As with most urban progress build, build, build and they will come. Omaha has a great riverfront district and the new baseball field will house nicely amidst extended parking, a mega-dome, etc. Anyway, we lucked out sitting next to some terrific people. I love hecklers and we had two of the best sitting right behind us. They knew each player’s name and stats and took great joy out at calling out every player on his follies. It was really entertaining, too bad the Gators made most of them. Oh well, the Gators lost, but no big deal, we didn’t want to make every other team in the nation fear us in this sport too :)

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