High Plains

Karen Madorin

By nature, Plains people share what they have with neighbors. It is how we survive and thrive. This opportunity for readers and lovers of ideas to explore and discuss our common landscape and the stories it generates is a gift. Each of us brings original perceptions to our common experience. Those differences can strengthen or weaken bonds necessary to make life good in a hard land. This group offers a venue for us to learn who we are because we value life on the Great Plains.

Karen Madorin

 In 1542, Father Juan Padilla wrote “the sky is so vast and unchanging that it resembles a great blue bowl turned upside down on the landscape.”  He was one of the chroniclers of the ill-fated expedition led Francisco Vasquez Coronado across the High Plains.

Coronado’s trek, along with the others led by fellow conquistadores during the Spanish exploration of the New World was never meant to just gain knowledge of the endless prairie.  The days they spent on the trackless grassland were a means to an end; the sacking of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola and the forced conversion of the natives they encountered.  Coronado came to the New World determined to spread Catholicism, impose the Spanish regal system on all they met and most important, take all the gold they could find.  They set about to abolish tribal systems in place since the Neolithic, to give those peoples no choice but to be assimilated, dominated or die.

A Strong West Wind

Jan 18, 2016

A Strong West Wind: A Memoir  by Gail Caldwell is the third book in the 2016 Spring Read.  

“In this exquisitely rendered memoir set on the high plains of Texas, Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell transforms into art what it is like to come of age in a particular time and place. A Strong West Wind begins in the 1950s in the wilds of the Texas Panhandle–a place of both boredom and beauty, its flat horizons broken only by oil derricks, grain elevators, and church steeples. Its story belongs to a girl who grew up surrounded by dust storms and cattle ranches and summer lightning, who took refuge from the vastness of the land and the ever-present wind by retreating into books. A memoir of culture and history–of fathers and daughters, of two world wars, the passionate rebellions of the sixties -- the book is also about the mythology of place and evolution of a sensibility: about how literature can shape and even anticipate a life” (From Amazon)

Spring Read 2016 Booklist

Jan 17, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.

Are These Really the Best Places to Live in America?

Aug 21, 2015
USDA Economic Research Service. Published Aug. 14, 2015 / CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM/THE WASHINGTON POST

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog recently grappled with a federal report that determined the best and worst places to live in America. The study made its determinations from the standpoint of scenery and climate. The report looked for several factors including mild winters, temperate summers, topographic variation, and access to a body of water.

Best & Worst States for Working Moms

May 6, 2015
www.wallethub.com

In the world of working moms the High Plains region spans the center of a survey of equality and support for mothers to hold their own in the workplace. With Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma ranking in the mid to low range at number 24, 33 and 42 respectively as the best and worst states for working moms.

A Western Kansas Highway Worth Your Time & Travel

Apr 30, 2015
Kansas Public Radio

Warmer weather brings out the wanderlust in many of us. Something about springtime can create a desire to get outside, hit the road and see something new. Commentator Rex Buchanan has been up and down a highway in western Kansas that he says is worth your time and travel.

Commentator Rex Buchanan is the director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas and a regular contributor to Kansas Public Radio.

PECAN in a Nutshell

Apr 16, 2015
NSF, NOAA, NASA & U.S. Department of Energy

If you’ve spent any time in Southern United States, then one would expect you to be very well acquainted with the Pecan. However this rendition may be something completely new to you. The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, aka PECAN is a study aimed at understanding severe thunderstorms at night over the High Plains.

No one really knows why the High Plains are so high in elevation, but researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado are proposing a new explanation.

Andrew Moore / nytimes.com

A story and slideshow of the Great American Desert provides a glimpse into lives and pictures that resonate with us… our values, struggles, and the hidden beauty of a place we call home.  Life Along the 100th Meridian from the New York Times.

If you live in the Texas Panhandle you’re more likely to be discussing plans for THANKSgiving rather than ThanksGIVing, as you might it Kansas.  There’s commonality in how we speak across the High Plains but also differences.  Click through the slide show above to view some food-related differences in pronunciation and usage across the region. 

Jonathan Goforth / flickr commons

The plains states rank well generally for income mobility according to a new study considered to be the most comprehensive yet on the subject.  Based on millions of anonymous income records, the study by leading economists found four primary factors correlated with higher income mobility in an area: a larger and more dispersed local middle class, more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

I swore I would never be a woman who lived her life behind a camera lens.  I wanted to live in the moment, experiencing life as it occurred. 

I achieved this goal until I received a Nikon that captures moments up close and from considerable distance with clicks of a silver button.  Using that telescopic lens, I could see fine details my unaided eye used to see as blurs.

These sweet treats can be grown throughout the HPPR broadcast area, although the further north they bloom the more likely they will encounter some late freezes that will nip the year's crop in the bud.  But the smell and taste of home grown peaches makes it worth the gamble, and the trees will actually live a longer and more 'fruitful' life if they have occasional barren years for resting and restoring.  The trail of the peach begins in China thousands of years ago.  The flavorful fruit was introduced to our shores by the Spanish explorers.

Spot and stalk on the high plains is a completely different game.  Here, creatively seek out the highest vantage point.  That could be a windmill tower, a knoll, or even the top of your pickup cab.