Let’s be upfront: I don’t like Nebraska.
One of my very closest friends and her undeniably sweet family live among the patchwork fields of ‘Braska, driving tractors, picking wildflowers, playing in piles of manure. [Nebraskans do wierd things.] And there’s no doubt about how I love them. But I still firmly believe there is nothing in Nebraska…besides two things.
One: sprinklers. When I drive through Michigan, I see these massive sprinklers with Tonka truck wheels, linked together like Knex toys across vast expanses of farmland. They have little spouts peeking down towards the dirt and sometimes they’re hidden from my highway drive in the misty fog of their own spray. I don’t imagine these sprinklers to be the kind you run through squealing in a diaper and sagging swimsuit as a small child. I even wonder if it’s not only water that sprays from them, but some deadly Agent Orange fertilizer that helps plants grow, but helps people die. Most farms have them, but for a while nore, they’ve been my Nebraskan trademark.
In my most recent drive through the wide Midwestern state, I acquired a second certainty in ‘Braska. Two: windmills. There were a few in Iowa, yes. And a couple stragglers stood tall as we crossed the Nebraska line to Colorado, but I’m claiming the windmills as “Nebraskan”, like the smell of a medium-rare prime rib or a family portrait of the Bachman’s.
A windmill is a windmill, nothing to get altogether giddy about. But these impossibly tall, thin, white bases had me craning my neck out the driver’s side window to get a glimpse of the rotars, pushing slowly through the air at the command of the wind. My space cushion was deflated, I struggled to stay between the white-dotted lines, I was far too curious about the Nebraskan landscape and how it reproduced these wind-powered mills like rabbits. They were planted in rows, sometimes miles apart, jumping the expressways to harvest the wind. Pretty fascinating, and sort of genius.
So congratulations, Nebraska, I owe you a hand-clap for the brilliancy of harvesting wind with such a postmodern feel and for the mezmerizing (if frightening) mist of water and chemicals that allows our popcorn to pop inside those stiff paper bags in the microwave.