Life In A "Fly Over State"...

I was born and raised in a “destination” state…

I live and will grow old in a “fly over” state…

For those of you that are Country Western music fans, Jason Aldean has a new song out.  It is entitled “Fly Over States”.  My girls and I heard it on the radio recently, and I loved it.  It talks about the Great Plains region of the United States—at first from the perspective of someone flying over at 30,000 feet from New York to LA, and then later from someone who actually lives in a fly over state.

From the city to the farm...

My middle daughter indignantly pointed out that Nebraska did not make the song (apparently, even as fly over states go, Nebraska does not rank high enough in popularity to be mentioned).  My oldest daughter (a dedicated college football fan) just plain sputtered as the song ended having talked about Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas (home to our biggest rivals during the years of the Big Twelve) but no mention was made of Nebraska.  As my oldest continued to dramatically expound on the unfairness of being forgotten, her littlest sister, stated “Its ok, Ashley, WE know how important we are!”

The perspective of a "farm kid"...Tractors and barn cats!

I simply stood there, laughed, and marveled at the pride that my children have in their home state.  They, quite honestly, cannot fathom that anyone would think that their beloved state was simply:

Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms,
Man it all looks the same,
Miles and miles of back roads and highways,
Connecting little towns with funny names,
Who’d want to live down there in the middle of nowhere…

To them the middle of nowhere is home—and the town of Cozad most certainly does not have a funny name!

Home to about 4000 people, and proudly marked on a local grain elevator...

The gravel roads that we drive on…

Our house is down this road and behind the trees...

The fields tended by their daddy and his crew…

The rural version of a "Jaguar"...

The cattle that they learned to care for long before they had ever ridden in an elevator…

A view that greets us every morning...

The small town where they go to school…

Learning life lessons on teamwork and community pride from teacher and coach mentors...

The sunrises and sunsets that will literally take your breath away…

God's paintbrush...

The view out their bedroom windows of sky and fields, and the vast expansiveness of the Platte River Valley…

Our valley, aglow with life under the summer sun...

Home is a place where cattle out number people 4 to 1, and 93% of the state’s land (45.6 million acres) is utilized by farms and ranches.  Home is a place where natural resources and Mother Nature determine the realities of life.  Home is a place where heart and soul and pride are all rolled up into one expression:

The Cornhuskers

We all define “home” in different ways, just as we all search for something unique as we journey through life.

I remember telling friends at Dartmouth that Matt and I were moving “home” to Nebraska after graduation.  Amidst a sea of surprised faces came the comment, “Nebraska, that’s right next to Kentucky isn’t it?”.  My favorite wedding gift was a map of the United States where my friends marked the routes “out of Nebraska” and back to their homes on either coast…

I am captivated by ranch windmills...They are so simple, yet so beautiful and functional...

My life is no longer full of traffic and beaches and shopping malls and movie theaters.  I traded those for tractors, cattle, corn, alfalfa, horses and prairies. Although Nebraska has never been termed a destination state, it is my final destination.

Anne Burkholder

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