A good time to appreciate home

Brandon Case
Wildlife worth watching is prevalent in Pratt County, like this Great Blue Heron fishing on the banks of Centennial Pond near the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism headquarters east of Pratt.

Big cities, like Wichita or Kansas City, offer unlimited diversions and distractions to fill your day or night. Whatever your interests or preferred form of entertainment, you’ll likely find it there.

But when it gets down to it, what you’ll find in Pratt County, as well as in other counties in rural Kansas feeds your soul more fully than does big city fare. While cities are fun to visit, the thought of returning home can’t help but put a smile on anyone’s face.

Canadian rocker, Neil Young, phrased it this way in his song, “Country Home:” “I guess I need that city life / It sure has lots of style / But pretty soon it wears me out / And I have to think to smile.”

While everyone has different ideas regarding what’s good about living in our neck of the woods, here are just a few reasons I’m glad to call this place home:

1) It’s relatively safe. Certainly, we have crime, and the police know just how bad it can be sometimes. However, overall, compared to larger cities, we live in a relatively safe place. Where else can you walk late at night, as my wife and I did recently, from a friend’s house on old highway 64 to and through the Lemon Park trails and Lemon Park and then back to our home on the north side of Highway 54?

2) We live among a lot of good people. Rural towns like Pratt are filled with folks who give back to their communities and their schools. I personally know many such individuals who, while imperfect like the rest of us, nevertheless strive to be good examples to others. It’s good to know our community has a firm foundation comprised of such individuals.

3) The wildlife is worth the watching. This phrase is borrowed from Wyoming, which used it in promotional theme years ago.

Nevertheless, it’s the same here. Get outside of town at dusk, dawn, or after dark. Take a walk, a bicycle ride, or just park your car in some quiet place nears trees and water, and keep your eyes open. On many nights, you’ll be surprised at the quantity and diversity of critters roaming around or flying above the prairies.

On recent rides I’ve taken northeast and southeast of Pratt on country roads, I’ve seen a dozen-plus deer every time, in bunches of four to eight typically.

4) You should be able to find whatever you need here. With a wide range of local stores and a hospital that has received kudos from out of state relatives who come here for medical procedures, Pratt has a lot going for it. Being the field headquarters for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism is also a feather in our city’s cap. Also, having two excellent Mexican restaurants (with a third soon to open) only provides one more star in the Pratt skies.

While we may not have as many flashing lights or all of the entertainment options that a Wichita offers, Kansas’ largest city is not too far away, but far enough for good measure. At times like this, when home is a good place to be, due to coronavirus concerns, I have to agree with musician Young who concludes his song “Country Home: with the words: “I’m thankful for my country home / It gives me peace of mind / Somewhere I can walk alone / And leave myself behind.”