Updated: Oct 6
Kelley and Ken with one of the Kaw kids and the late great Susan Jones
When I first came to Lawrence almost 30 years ago, I ran with a pack of tall men, “the trees,” I told friends. Danny, Ken and Kelley were all close to 6 feet tall, and well, let’s just say I’m not anywhere near that. I looked up to them; I had no choice. Along with some other Kawsters (Kaw Council members) bent on changing the world with bioregionalism, we spent expansive amounts of time together at potlucks, meetings, gatherings to explore various nooks and crannies of Kansas and Nebraska, many nights sleeping on the ground or in a friend of a friend’s living room, more meetings, and even more potlucks. We didn’t change the world, but we sure changed each other and ourselves over time.
(from right): Ken, Daniel, Danny, Forest, and one friend my own height, Jerry
Fast forward from my early 20s to my early 50s, and I’m roaming with a new generation of tall men: my sons. Walking into Checkers yesterday with my sons flanking me, I had that same feeling of being a small woman in the forest again, but with trees I love and trust. Daniel is 5’10” and Forest to close to 6″ but since he’s only 16 and my kids tend to keep growing until they’re 20, I know he will keep climbing.
Tall people are more common in the Midwest than in central NJ and Brooklyn, where I grew up and where people of Jewish, Italian and other short-ish heritages abounded (not to say there aren’t the tall among us, but overall, we can’t hold or be a candle compared to the people of Northern European heritage that settled so much of Kansas). When I was a kid, anyone close to 6 feet tall was an amazement, kind of like my sister-in-law when she went to Kenya to continually find children lined up to touch her strawberry blonde fine hair. I aspired to be taller like most people I knew, but it turned out my fate would be to be surrounded by the tall and taller.
So now I roam still and again with the trees, and as long as I can see the forest (and my son Forest) for the trees, the view is stunning.