Cornfields, Cemeteries and Cranes

Douglas, NE > Boulder, CO

Nebraska farmers have prepared their massive cornfields for spring. These endless fields dominate the scenery along the I-80 corridor and there is little else to see. But when you veer off the thoroughfare and explore the N-roads that wind through the patchwork homesteads and small towns like Douglas, Palmyra and Unadilla, there’s more to see than crops, silos and barns.

These towns consist of small clusters of homes ranging from Victorians to tract to trailers. Some are picture-perfectly groomed and others are loaded with equipment and decorations representing all the major holidays. There’s the occasional school, antique shop or convenience store, however, I learned that most residents need to travel several miles to the nearest supermarket. This is not unlike where we live, it’s just that all the structures are far more visible when there’s so much sky behind them.

One consistent thing we couldn’t help but notice is that each town had at least one cemetery. And several had two: “One for the Catholics.”  I took Lemmon for a walk in the Rosehill Cemetery in Douglas, located across the dirt road where we had camped for the night. It was an impeccable site, a place where the Douglas souls could truly rest in peace. Some tombstones dated back to the Civil War and others represented far more recent losses. I paid my respects and remembered, of course, how life just keeps marching on. And I believe it’s our responsibility to the dead to keep living our precious lives to the best of our ability. It’s how I deal with grief.

Back out on the I-80 Cornfield Express, we had the lucky timing to witness the migration of the Sandhill Cranes near Kearny. The annual migration of some 500,000 of these graceful creatures has been called “one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in America.” True enough. They filled the sky and the cornfields and provided just a few minutes of wonder and excitement as we flew by at 60 m.p.h.

Meanwhile, awaiting on the horizon were our own beautiful fledglings in their cozy little Boulder nest. And by this point, we couldn’t get there fast enough.

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