My favorite farmer and I strive to raise our girls with a broad perspective of social and political knowledge. Our family dinner conversations range from farming issues to World and American history and politics to random philosophical discussions. The girls tend to groan when Matt or I take a comment that they make and turn it into an intellectual discussion, however, these cerebral sessions have become a family tradition 🙂
I think that it is important for young people to grow up with inquiring minds and a zest for learning. Lengthy discussions and debates are a great way to foster this development, and also bring a new dimension to a family dinner.
As part of the Duke TIP program at Trinity University that my favorite teenager participated in this summer, she was required to write four papers — all of which revolved around the general subject of Myths and Legends. For this week’s Thoughtful Thursday post, I would like to share Ashley Grace’s Cosmology Essay for the class.
She was charged with the task of creating a story that explained the origin, evolution, and fate of her home state of Nebraska. I think that her story draws on a full litany of topics that have highlighted our family dinner table discussions over the years, and I found it both enlightening and entertaining…
The Creation Story of Nebraska
In the beginning, before humans and animals roamed the earth, there was darkness. There were fifty gods, Flat, the god of a land known as Nebraska, was one. Flat was a good god, and had visions of a place where peace and happiness wore scarlet and cream. But, as in all places, good could not exist without evil. Flat’s nemesis, the god of Colorado, wanted the land all to himself.
Using the cover of darkness, Colorado stole the southwest corner of Nebraska, creating the panhandle. Flat and Colorado met slightly north of there and a great battle ensued. To this day, the Sandhills exist as a tribute to the fierce battle.
Flat, horrified at the destruction of his land, threw off the cover of darkness so that all the gods could see Colorado’s treachery. In shame and fury, Colorado fled, keeping his corner, back to his state. Colorado cursed one of the rivers Flat had created. The Plate River, for this reason, was split into two channels and is a shallow, muddy mess.
Now that his borders were secure, Flat turned his attention to matters closer to home. He was in love with the beautiful Dakota, and in an attempt to impress her, created the rolling hills of northeastern Nebraska. Dakota was not impressed, and showed that much by making the Badlands on the South Dakota, Nebraska border.
Flat became depressed and created a burning hot sun, and its opposite, a moon, made of the cold rock that was now his heart. Flat also made other terrors during this time. He created a howling wind, snow, famine, bugs, and all bad weather. After being sad, for so long, Flat forgot was it was like to be happy, and became an angry god.
In his rage, Flat made humans, doomed to forever fight against the unwilling ground for all necessities. The first humans, a male and female, created at the same time from more of Flat’s rock hard heart, had the five senses and not much else. All humans are descended from these beings. Flat poured all of his angry feelings into these humans, so that they were mean creatures, incapable of love.
But Flat, was in essence, a peaceful god. He soon realized what he had done to his people, and gave them great gifts. He gave them love, kindness, generosity, and most importantly, perseverance and the stubborn toughness they would need to farm the earth. He gave them animals, for his people needed meat and labor. He created flowers and rainbows and smiles to help them through the hard times.
When the first corn crop matured, Flat threw a celebration for the couple and their children. Flat took the corn kernels and set them in the sky as stars to forever remember the crop. Peace was brought to the land.
Colorado was not happy to see Flat’s state prosper, so he flew over the land at night, scattering seeds. These seeds grew into trees of all kinds, which were an inconvenience to Nebraskans, as they had to work harder to pull them out. Flat took all of the trees brought in by Colorado and placed them by the rivers to provide shelter to animals. Thus, this was not seen as a success on Colorado’s part.
Meanwhile, South Dakota had established a government and was bragging about her state to all the gods. Flat, remembering her rejection, decided to one up her. So, the thinkers of Nebraska were born. These intelligent beings created a government with a balanced budget and a unicameral to function more efficiently. They founded a college, UNL, and made the mascot the Cornhuskers, because the athletes had the same determination as the first farmers. The teams still wear scarlet and cream to symbolize the farmers’ blood and tears those first years. Nebraska had begun.
Now, in Nebraska, there is a peculiar rock formation near Scottsbluff. This state landmark was created when Flat rested for the first time in his tumultuous reign. After creating his state, Flat was exhausted. He laid down on his heavenly bed and fell into a deep sleep. His snores sent burst of air down to earth, weathering away stone to create Chimney Rock.
Can you find possible topics of discussion at the Feed Yard Foodie dinner table amidst her story? Please share them in the comment section!