I live in the middle of Wichita, literally. My historic home is in Midtown in a historic neighborhood. It is not the original part of Wichita, but houses were built in this addition fairly early. Many of the trees are large, the Little Arkansas is just a couple of blocks away and some of the original parks including Riverside and Oak Park are within blocks.
I work on the “west side.” Wichitans are used to the “east side/west side” rivalry. Frankly, it’s pretty silly, Wichita is not that large. My husband and I chose to live in the urban core for many reasons, not the least of which had to do with loving old homes and being in a neighborhood that neighbors. I am about equi-distance between the east side and the west side which allows easy access all over town.
Most of the hospitals are the east side. Often, when I am at church it is simple to “hop” on Kellogg and flyover downtown or to use the 96 bypass. It is quick, easy and no stop lights to speak of when I have several people to visit in different settings.
What I have noticed, recently, is how often I do not use Kellogg or the Interstates or the by-pass. When I am done visiting and on my way back to church I often take Central or Murdock and end up by the Rivers and in the Park. Murdock ends in a roundabout which takes me through Riverside Park,
by the river, by the play equipment, with the geese, the ducks and the people. The second roundabout puts me out to the where two rivers meet and there is the Keeper of the Plains.
Central, again, brings me right to the Keeper and I have to drive by the rivers and the dam. And finally, curving around the river I end up going west and on my way to work.
It would probably be faster if I didn’t go “through” the center of town, but not nearly as lovely. Every time I take the long way, I slow down a bit, smile, occasionally wait for the gaggle of geese to get across the road and find myself breathing a little deeper.
When we were taking my mom to and from the doctor and appointments, she never wanted to travel the high way, she always wanted to go through the park and by the river. I was taking the longer way before she was ill and enjoying it, but now, I find myself paying more attention to the change in the seasons, the way people come out when the days get longer and warmer and how I often wish I had time to just stop and get out of the car and enjoy.
Taking the longer route helps me center and remember the beauty around me. Driving through park reminds me how blessed I am with family, with friends, with a ministry and with eyes to see and ears to hear. Today, on a day when the temperature will hit almost 70 I am leaving work early. I am going home and getting my bicycle and riding by the river and saying a prayer of thanks for grace given, love shared and in the words of the old hymn, “for the beauty of the earth.
Graced to Serve