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Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: The View from a glider

  • I just returned from a five-day conference trip to Orlando, which, as you likely know, is located in Florida, known as “The Sunshine State” because of year round balmy weather replete with palm trees, green grass and exotic tropical foliage.



    Two days of the five were taken up with the rigors of traveling, the least rigorous of which was the drive to the Kansas City airport and back.

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  • I just returned from a five-day conference trip to Orlando, which, as you likely know, is located in Florida, known as “The Sunshine State” because of year round balmy weather replete with palm trees, green grass and exotic tropical foliage.
    Two days of the five were taken up with the rigors of traveling, the least rigorous of which was the drive to the Kansas City airport and back.
    It’s the air travel that sucks.
    I’m old enough to remember when flying was glamorous. Easy check-in, roomy seating and full meals served in the friendly skies to travelers wearing slacks and dresses.
    Flying these days features jammed cabins and torture-rack seating with fees for everything from checking your bags to getting an extra package of ‘fun size’ pretzels, long security lines, and people dressed like refugees.
    Orlando is also the home of Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks, which is why, at least in part, the conference organizers chose it for the national meeting.
    I’ve been to conferences there before. I’m not a big fan. Rather be in a city like San Francisco, Chicago or Washington, D.C.
    There’s lots of reasons. The main one being that I find cities much more interesting, like a good poem. As Charles Bukowski writes: “a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers, filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen, filled with banality and booze…”
    Not to mention that I’m not into paying ninety bucks a day to stand in a long line to see the latest Harry Potter attraction or get the pants scared off me on an up-to-the-minute ride.
    Walt Disney World, for instance, features a ride call the Astro Orbiter, a Tommowland rocket-spinner attraction that operates on the premise of rockets spinning around a central monument. And Universal Studios Citywalk features a state of the art IMAX 3D theatre.
    As for me, I’d much rather spin around on an old tire swing beneath the incandescent leaves of a hard maple or, better yet, move smoothly to and fro on Sabe Pratesi’s old glider while watching the sun set.
    Speaking of which, sitting on the wraparound front porch of our Victorian home — that rests on the confluence of Olive, Rose, and Euclid streets — late last Friday afternoon, I experienced southeast Kansas autumn bliss.
    A gusty wind sounded in the wind chime, the filtered light vibrated with color, the purple bricks on the curving streets danced and whirled with brown, pale yellow, rust, and orange-red leaves. The trees — elm, oak, maple, catalpa and birch — flickered like an old time movieola against the empty, robin’s egg sky.
    I could see swallows drawing circles high in the dome of pale blue and starlings sketching elliptically back and forth above the old houses shadowed by the approaching sunset. I could hear a lawnmower start and drone to the east, the faint bark of dogs to the west, and a KCS freight approaching from the south, its diesel humm and horn blow absorbed and muted by the blustery wind.
    Page 2 of 2 - The blue-grey wood of the porch floor and the mottled texture of the multiple paint layers on the white frame siding and the smudged mold spots on the electric blue porch ceiling belonged to a different era, one that was beyond time and paid little attention to the latest trend.
    There are moments like these in southeast Kansas when one wonders if he has not just walked through the shadows and emerged 40 or 50 years ago. And at that moment, maybe one realizes with a longing pang that he would not find such an experience wholly undesirable.
    J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net

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