Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year to you!
Sitting in the sun on the front porch in 60 degree weather is a new way of writing a Christmas letter, and even for Kansas this is exceptional weather for this time of the year. From the porch I am looking out on our new homestead: the red barn, the red shed that serves as a playhouse for the kids where Cecile is preparing a corn dish for the chickens, the chicken house with brown and black chickens milling around everywhere, the woodworking workshop that also, to David’s dismay, has become the dog and cat house, the garden shed next to one of our garden plots, the birdbath where a red cardinal and sparrows are fighting for a drink, and endless pastures and wheat fields extending all the way to the horizon. The house behind me is a white two story farm house with four bedrooms. It is in much better shape than when we arrived, largely due to David’s amazing handyman skills. We have a new bathroom, a new kitchen floor, new windows for the upstairs. The guest room has the rustic charm of an old farm house. We’ll hope you’ll try it sometime despite the remote location.
In case, you had not heard about our big move from Boston to rural Kansas, here is a short description of where we are: We are very close to the geographic center of the continental USA, which by the way is in a wheat field in North Central Kansas not far from the border to Nebraska.
We live 3 miles north of Kensington, Kansas, a small town of 500 people, that has a small grocery store, four churches and a school. Christina is attending first grade in the elementary school. Each morning at 7:30 the yellow school bus picks her up at the farm and returns her here at 3:30. Her class has 17 students and is the biggest class in the grade school. Christina has a fabulous teacher who has taught 1st grade in this school for over 20 years. She has music and computer every day and physical education and science ever second day. We can hardly imagine a better school. One of the churches in Kensington has a well-run pre-school which Cecile attends for two days a week.
Our farm house is 17 miles from Smith Center, the next biggest town, with two grocery stores and two general stores, a Pizza Hut and a Steakhouse, 10 churches (the ratio of churches to people continues to amaze me), a school - and the hospital where David works. He is working part-time, seeing patients on Mondays and Fridays, and working many week-ends and nights.
We also live more than 4 hours from the nearest airport. You can fly to Kansas City, Wichita, or Omaha, but nothing is close to us. However, if you ever wanted to get away from it all: traffic, shopping malls, noise, light and air pollution - you will be at the right place and our guest room is ready for you. Other than the clucking of the chickens, the occasional crowing of the roosters, and the rustling of the wind in the trees, it is completely quiet. There are many country roads to walk and bicycle and never meet another person. And this part of Kansas is quite hilly and definitely not flat. Sunrises and sunsets and the night sky are the spectacular events here and they will fill you with awe. And since I am not working during our time here, I love to cook and bake and will treat you to food that will make up for the lack of restaurants.
When we made the decision to come out here at the beginning of the year, we had several goals. We wanted the kids to experience country life, we wanted them to be close to grand-parents (David’s parents live 15 miles from us) and we wanted more time to spend with Christina and Cecile and feel less stress in our lives – much of which we feel we have accomplished. (David disagrees a bit on the stress part since being the only doctor in the whole county when he is on call and basically being a one-person emergency room is quite stressful.)
We had originally wanted to keep our house in Boston since we only plan to stay here for two years. However, at the time the rental market in Boston was weak whereas house sales were going strong, so we sold at a good price. Still, it was hard to sell the house since we had renovated it bit by bit over the years and it was gorgeous at last. Our perennial garden had just the right amount of a little overgrown feel to it to make it a real oasis in the city and every room in the house was finally finished.
Here in Kansas , we are only renting our house ($225 a month for a house with many outbuildings on several acres). We could have easily bought a house here as well, but in contrast to Boston, houses here depreciate in value over time since less and less people live so remotely. Here we have huge amounts of land for gardening, but since we are not here for the long run, we will concentrate on annual flowers and vegetables.
You can find pictures of us and our new home on our web site: www.hermannsonline.com. Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Our new phone number is: 785-476-2627. For conventional mail, the address is Rural Route 1, Box 129, Kensington KS, 66951. Please stay in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
Claudia, David, Christina and Cecile