JUST THE KANSAS FACTS M'AM!
State Capital- TOPEKA- There was some joke when we were kids about a Native American and the "toe peek ka" of my sock....yeah it was probably a lame kid's joke. Not a big town but I do like the capitol building itself with the John Steuart Curry art inside and a recent addition to the top that was a long time in the making! Fun Fact: Topeka means "good place to dig potatoes."
State Flag- It's mostly blue which, as you know, is a colour that I find becoming. The picture in the center is the Kansas State Seal. It is kinda hard to make out but there is a landscape that includes a rising sun, representing the east; and a river and steamboat, representing commerce. In the foreground, a settler's cabin and a man plowing a field represent agriculture. A wagon train heads west and buffalo are seen fleeing from two Indians. Around the top of the seal is a cluster of 34 stars. Fun Fact: The state motto that appears above the stars is the Latin "Ad Astra Per Aspera" which means "To the stars through difficulties." I have always liked that idea.
State Flower- Sunflower (Helianthus)- This is where we get our name as the "Sunflower State." I've driven down country roads and highways in Kansas and seen huge fields of sunflowers and it just takes my breath away everytime. I love that the sunflower is a friend to the wildbirds and always faces the sun. I planted one when I was a kid and still have a picture of me on a ladder with this huge plant that resulted from a tiny seed. I can't remember what a sunflower does when it's cloudy!
State Animal: American buffalo (Bos or Bison americanus) To celebrate Kansas Day one year, my mom made us a carrot cake with white frosting on the top and, to our delight, an American buffalo! It was really cool and I still have the picture of it. Also outside of my hometown there was (and still is) a buffalo farm which I've been to many times! Buffalo meat is very low in cholesterol. No wonder the Natives didn't have problems with obesity until we came along with our beef and Big Macs! (That and they rode horses all day and walked/ran all the time.) Fun Fact: Natives observed American buffalo exhibiting homosexual behaviour and thus accepted this trait among their own people, calling them "two-spirited."
State Bird: Western meadow lark (Sturnella-Neglecta) I have seen (and heard) these beautiful birds all over but mostly on fence posts out in the country. Fun Fact: Kansas school children chose the western meadow lark as the State Bird in 1925. The Kansas Audubon Society facilitated this contest in which the western meadow lark won over close competitors, the bobwhite quail, the cardinal, and the robin. The Kansas Legislature approved the western meadow lark as the official state bird of Kansas in 1937. Another Fun Fact: This is also the state bird of someone else's state!
State Tree: Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)- In Kansas, there are times during the year that the cottonwoods "snow" and the cotton is all over the streets and in the air. I suppose it's nothing compared to the cherry blossoms in Seoul or anything like that, but it is cool to see the wind pick up and the cotton blow over and around you. Not so cool if you are allergic to them fo course!
State Reptile: Agassiz ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata) Whenever I think of box turtles, think of my brother who rescued them crossing busy highways and brought them home to winter in our window well under warm leaves and grass mulch. He would catch grasshoppers and grubs for them to eat on our kitchen table. He named them after famous Roman emperors. In the spring, when they would come out of hibernation, he would let them go near the creek. He was out "walking" one of his turtles one day when three cattle that had escaped from the nearby vet clinic cut through our yard. He wisely grabbed the turtle and stepped behind a tree as they stampeded by. Good times, eh? Not sure what happened to them but I do remember calling the local police who did not take me very seriously....
State Song: "Home on the Range" words by Dr. Brewster Higley, music by Dan Kelly- When I was a kid, I actually took a trip to Athol, to the cabin where this song was written. It wasn't all that from what I remember but I guess one could say that for most historical sites. I guess being where it actually happened is the point. Fun Fact: One of my favourite singers, Tori Amos, did a really cool cover of this song.
Other sillier Kansas symbols: (a big WHATEVER on all three!)
Amphibian: Barred tiger salamander (ambystoma tigrinum mavortium, Baird, 1850)
Insect: Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
Soil: Harney silt loam