When I travel around in my adopted state of Kansas, I often come across a deserted building like this one. My mind wanders…I start to think, “What’s the story here?”
What went on here?
Who built this structure?
Was this a home… a school…what?
I love a good story, and I’m sure this little stone building has one.
It sits on a hill east of Rock Springs, Kansas, where rock and stones are plentiful. The Flint Hills of Kansas are dotted with outcroppings of native stone. The topsoil is but inches deep, sprouting some of the richest native grasses anywhere. This expanse of untilled land stretches to the horizon much like it did when pioneers crossed it.
Getting back to the building, I’m guessing it was probably a school.
I imagine there was eight grades with one teacher instructing them all. It probably served the surrounding ranch community. I went to a rural one-room school until I was in eighth grade.
The scene fills me with longing and a calm. Stone and mortar stands strong against decades and elements. It is from a simpler time where earth and man lived in harmony.
I envision children playing games around the schoolyard–prairie dresses blowing in the wind and young boys tossing horseshoes, or playing catch. Braids attached to rosy cheeks peek out of the doorway… beckoning me to come inside.
A hitching rail secures the ponies and wagon the children and their teacher used to reach this place.
A south breeze whip my hair around…voices of the past float on the wind with laughter and sorrow. It was not an easy life out here. The sun and puffy clouds weren’t always as comforting as this scene depicts.
Wildfires, tornadoes, drought and flash flood could plagued the plains with unforgiving fury. As bucolic as this picture seems, there is a loneliness to it.
I fill my lungs with the clean prairie perfume of this place. Sweet grass, earth, and sun bathe my face.
Night will fall, Coyotes will howl–the little stone building will stand to face the sunrise another day. Ghosts of the past will run and play with the Kanza south wind.
I hate to leave, but my car and life awaits, so I click a few more shots before I depart.