Kansas: an anniversary adventure

Dan and my anniversary has come around again! (In 2020: 11 years together, 4 years married.)

In this bizarre year, we celebrated in a few different ways. The night before, we made the lasagna that we usually save for Christmas.

On our proper anniversary (June 6), we hit the road to the northwestern corner of Kansas.

Why Kansas, as we have already been asked?

Dan and I had previously visited 45 states together. Were due to add Kansas to the list* in late May, when we had planned to drive from Colorado to visit our families in Ohio. Since the pandemic derailed our travel plans, we decided to spend June 6 driving out to Kansas, having lunch, and driving straight back.

(*Remaining states to visit: Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Hawaii)

There is not much to the town of St. Francis, Kansas. Because the only restaurant we had researched in advance was closed for a golf tournament, we ordered curbside pickup at the magnificent St. Francis Pizza Hut and enjoyed our lunch at a nearby park.

(Astronaut Ron Evans)

The drive took about 8 hours total, with small stops along the way to visit sites such as the Cherry Creek encampment. (Following the Sand Creek massacre, many surviving Cheyenne moved to the Cherry Creek encampment, where they were slaughtered a year later. Part of the reason Dan and I love to drive is because of the American history that we encounter on the road, and the conversations that memorials such as this one can provoke.)

And because it’s spring, our drive home took us through terrifying storms lasting about 10 minutes each.

One final anniversary indulgence: Petunia and Chicken. I first saw this imaginative piece of theater 7 years ago to the day — I remember it was June 6 because I saw Petunia on my own during the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, but had promised Dan we could spend the evening of our anniversary away from the theater.

When I returned home from seeing probably 5-6 plays that day, Dan asked me what we should do to celebrate our anniversary — and I begged him to come downtown and watch Petunia with me. I specifically recall telling him, “This is a piece of theater I’m going to be talking about for the rest of my life, and I need you to know what I am talking about.”

This year, Petunia and Chicken is being offered through the online version of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. I’d been aching to watch it again (for my seventh or maybe eighth time, I’ve lost count), but it felt right to save it for our anniversary.

The video is a great recording of a live performance from last year. They have added live music to the show since I first saw it 7 years ago. If you’d like to give me a late anniversary present, consider watching Petunia and Chicken through the Fringe — tickets are $11 and support the artists.

Petunia and Chicken introduced me to the author Willa Cather, whose writing inspired in me a fascination with the American prairie, which in turn inspired many road trips to places such as Red Cloud, Nebraska (where Cather spent her formative years and wrote several of her novels). Those road trips solidified Dan and my decision to move west, and so it is not an exaggeration to say that Petunia and Chicken nudged the course of my life in an a different direction.

The recorded version can never be as powerful as experiencing it live, but Petunia and Chicken is still a powerful show with a strong sense of artistry. If you are so inclined, you can watch it here.

Hello, gorgeous.
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