Jim and I are happy to be back in the gallery and in Lindsborg after two weeks away on a business trip to Scotland.
After having accompanied Jim over 25 years on some of his storied Scottish journeys, I have become a bit of an aficionado myself. I find that many Kansas qualities also dwell in some parts of Scotland. That is especially true when comparing the far northern Scottish isles of Orkney and our own Lindsborg.
Now, you may ask: What could landlocked Lindsborg possibly have in common with town in sea-locked Orkney in Great Britain? The comparison is positively elegant.
Orkney is a small and somewhat remote community with a quiet work ethic, an abiding love of the arts and crafts, and a treasured heritage that it expresses in almost everything it does. It takes effort and extra travel time to get to Orkney; some visitors to Scotland never discover this place or make it a priority.
Orkney is able to live on in an increasingly big box Britain because it has been willing to love who and what it is -- and share its authentic life with visitors. Fishing, sailing, gardening and wildlife, cattle farming, fine arts and crafts, food and drink, monuments and markings of ancient life, and wide-ranging outdoor settings for hiking, biking and more. More important, Orkney frames its value on a world stage. No aw shucks with a toe in the dirt.
Trade sailing and mountains for driving or hiking the magnificent sea of the nearby Flint Hills of Kansas and then the comparison is a cinch. It's true: Jim and I experience an authentic and very distinctive rural life here in Lindsborg much like that which we experience in Orkney, especially in their main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. Some never discover us or make it a priority to visit. Trees are a bit scarce in some parts of the isles and the sea can seem impossibly vast; we embrace the rolling lands and big horizons here in Kansas.
That's why we came away glad to feel the familiar in a place so apparently different and distant. While most travel offers chance to learn about and grow to appreciate differences, this particular journey helped us see Lindsborg and the value of rural life in sharper focus.