Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain
Who has the cutest kitchenware, the longest concrete counter tops, and the grandest prairie views I’ve ever seen? Need a hint? Her cooking show airs Saturday mornings on Food Network.
Yeah, that’s me with the lovelies of my life, standing in the kitchen at The Pioneer Woman’s infamous Lodge. We flew to Kansas in June, took a shortcut to Oklahoma, and made a detour to the Lodge. It’s the place longtime PW fans have been gushing over since its “under construction” status went public on her blog. I remember mulling over paint chips, tile samples and faucet styles with thousands of other avid fans. Then there was the time I entered a contest and won a Lowes gift card. I used to brag, “Yeah, The Pioneer Woman gave me my kitchen sink! Well. Sorta. No, not really. But sorta!”
One random day about a decade ago (while feeding a hungry newborn and lamenting motherly exhaustion), I started reading the highly entertaining musings of a homeschooling mama in Oklahoma, and next I was watching — like everyone in America! — as she took on the world with her family and a pair of cowboy boots. Wow!
Anyway, in June — as part of a work trip — the girls and I had opportunity to visit The Pioneer Woman’s piece of Oklahoma sky. It was just as much fun and as breathtaking as you’d expect it to be. We also made it into Pawhuska for shopping and dinner at The Mercantile. We didn’t see Ree, though I did exchange a few words with her husband who kindly posed for a photo with my girls.
Here’s the thing: I couldn’t help thinking how surreal it must be for all of them to drive to town and walk into the building they had gutted and renovated, a town they obviously love and want to save, only to be greeted by throngs of people — people who see them as a famous entity and now, a destination. I’m sure that’s part of the grand plan! But still …
At the end of the day — or more appropriately at the start of every day — there’s still a ranch that spreads as far as you can see, herds of hungry horses and cattle, and loads of downright hot and dirty work to be done. There is a magnificent lodge that a lucky few get to tour. But what sticks in my mind even more than the fantastical decor and beautiful Le Creuset pots lined up in a row? A faded and obviously well-used Nerf gun left behind on a porch bench. My kids play with Nerf guns, too.
Authenticity matters and everyone has an opinion. Here’s mine: highly-motivated and yes, notable people inhabit these spaces — people obviously working for the greater good; people with big dreams and compassion for community; people who work hard and play harder. To me, it looks like they’re people who determine to leave every place better than the state in which they found it.
O, Pioneers! I’m a fan.