I left my home at 3:30am on Saturday, May 24th and headed to Sea-Tac Airport for a 6:00am flight that would ultimately bring me to Omaha, after a brief layover in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. 198 miles west of Omaha, lay my destination: Central City, NE; population 2,934.
There is a sweetness to the air out in the middle of the prairie; it’s a gentle scent that compliments the quietness of a quintessential, small Nebraskan town.
In town for a friend’s wedding, Beth’s family arranged for the out-of-towners to stay in the girls dorm of the Christian school that the bride herself grew up attending.
Stepping out of the car, the scent of fast-dying lilacs assailed my senses, adding a touch of spring to the heavy musk of the humid night air. Simple and complete, the dorms offered all the necessities of home – once I propped a chair against the door to keep it shut, that is!
Alone on the school’s campus the next day, I took advantage of the bench-swing I spied upon my arrival the previous evening. The wind blew alternating cool and warm, depending upon the cloud cover; the humidity obvious when it stilled.
Of note: birds fill Nebraska’s skies. Brave birds that dive for food in front of 60 mph car tires. Melodic birds who serenade all through the night; their songs dance along the swaying trees in the ever-present wind. Their sounds a welcome reprieve from the crows and stellar jays that populate the Northwest. A lovely red cardinal (to my uneducated eye) took a break atop my red rental car before flying away; none-to-happy I disturbed its camouflage. I swear I heard an owl off in the distance.
The largest bumblebee I’ve ever seen causes me concern, dancing around the grass beneath my seat.
It’s peaceful here. Meditative.
This beautiful, brick building dominates the campus. Out here, tall things grab your vision. Built in the 1800’s as the home for Nebraska Central College the building stands pristine and aristocratic next to the other, utilitarian facilities. Upon closer inspect, though, its age peeks out through peeling paint, broken roof tiles, and cracked/discolored brick.
The train tracks tri-sect a town dominated by a grain silo; a monolith on the horizon that reminds you how critical farming, and in particular corn, is to this region of the US. An IGA serves as General Store, selling sundries, supplies, and food.
I wouldn’t describe Central City as a sleepy town, maybe tired is a better adjective. While the modern parts of the town (a hospital, parks, fields and schools) take on the suburban nature of any community, vacant brick buildings populate downtown. A closed theater gives one a glimpse of more prosperous times for the area’s county seat.