Today is my birthday. I love birthdays, whether they’re mine or someone else’s. What better holiday than one that celebrates life?!?!
My own birthdays kind of make me retrospective, reflective, and any other $10 word you can think of that starts with re- and ends with “looking back over my life.”
With absolutely zero disrespect to anyone who was born in, or grew up in, a state other than Kentucky, I just wanted to write a few words about how happy, and blessed, I feel that I was born in Kentucky, raised in Kentucky, and live in Kentucky.
Those of you who were also raised here will understand 100 percent where I’m coming from. Funny thing is, I have a feeling that those of you who have adopted Kentucky as your home will also understand FULLY where I’m coming from.
After all, home’s home – whether it’s always been home or has only recently become home.
I honestly don’t believe anyone in the world loves their home state any more than I do mine.
Some probably love it as much, but more than? Not likely.
You’re sitting in front of one example of this love… Genuine Kentucky! Some people put up websites to actors or actresses that they love – with oodles of pictures they fawn over. Genuine Kentucky is my Angelina Jolie or my Denzel Washington!
We lived on Pensacola Beach for a while nearly 10 years ago. Literally on the beach… as in, step out the back door, step into sand. Take 10 giant steps and you’re in the ocean!
This animal lover was in paradise with daily sightings of dolphins, stingrays, jellyfish, pelicans, sea gulls, etc. We had two ducks (a male and a female) who came to our back deck twice daily for visits and food. When they showed up, sea gulls covered the place because they knew things were about to get real.
A few of my daughters and I have killer allergies. We have to take allergy medicine just about every day during certain seasons. We never bought a single box of medicine while living in Florida. No trees, no grass equaled no sneezing, no itchy throats, and no itchy eyes.
We ate seafood as often as Wimpy eats hamburgers and as often as Popeye eats spinach. Days began with walks on the beach, days ended with walks on the beach.
Sound like paradise? Would it surprise you to know that paradise is what we returned to?
When we came back to Kentucky, we came back home.
One day, after we came back, my daughters and I were driving through Madisonville’s City Park. Twice we drove past people who were walking the trail – even though we didn’t know them, they smiled and waved. My girls pointed out squirrels running from tree to tree gathering acorns – something we hadn’t seen in a while.
The birds were so beautiful and colorful – they looked like someone had colored them with crayons and the trees and grass were so GREEN, I couldn’t help staring.
When we got out, to walk the trail, a wonderful Kentucky breeze accompanied us. I said, “This fits, doesn’t it?“
My Kentuckian little girls knew exactly what I meant and completely agreed.
There are a lot of things we sometimes take for granted in our beautiful state. Sometimes we don’t realize it until we step away for a while.
- The 4 distinct seasons. Fall should feel like Fall and winter should come with the expectation of snow. You should be able to hope for and watch for a white Christmas!
- Friendly people. If you’ve ever traveled, you know that there’s simply something different about Kentucky hospitality. People seem more eager to wave, speak, and smile at you in Kentucky than anyplace I’ve ever been. Kentuckians don’t think of “strangers” as strangers – we think of them as friends we’ve yet to meet.
- Lakes. Our lakes in Kentucky are extra special. They’re so relaxing and serene – yet at the same time, they can provide more fun than you ever had! Whereas the ocean always seems to be in a hurry, a lake is perfectly content to sit and feel the breeze. While I love the catfish our lakes provide me with dearly, my favorite thing about Kentucky’s lakes are their laid back attitudes. When you’re near a lake, it’s like you leave the world behind. It’s as though your psyche hangs up a sign that says, “Out to Lake.” Love that.
- Green, green, green! As soon as we crossed back into the state of Kentucky, the vivid green left a profound impression on me. I’ll never forget how GREEN everything was. It’s a color we see daily, without really seeing. We tend to take our beautiful trees and green grass for granted. Sometimes, when I look out the window, I think back to how unusually green everything looked to me that day and I renew my appreciation for the greenness. Respect the green!
- Kentucky birds and wildlife. We have so many amazing birds and animals in Kentucky – the animal lover in me wonders why anyone would live anywhere else. Cardinals, eagles, hummingbirds, goldfinches, woodpeckers, hawks, squirrels, raccoons, possums (yes, I love possums!), skunks, deer, vivid butterflies, ladybugs, etc. etc. Each day I look at these beautiful little miracles and can’t imagine life without them.
- Kentucky State Parks. Our state parks are the best in the country. They’re wonderful opportunities to bond with the place we call home, learn about its history, and embrace what it means to live in Kentucky.
- Horses and Horse Farms. You never know just how beautiful they are until you haven’t seen them for a while!
- Kentucky Rain. Enough said. Magic.
- The Food! Kentucky has the best food in the world. Hand’s down. BBQ, fresh produce, fried catfish, buttermilk biscuits.. it might be the worst state to diet in, but it’s the best state to love food in!
There are countless things I love about Kentucky and countless reasons I’m thrilled that a certain number of years ago, I was born in this beautiful, friendly, and Crayola Crayon colorful state.
Each day begins with a walk around my green yard, feeding my cats, squirrels and a wide array of birds.
Each day ends with the same walk – this time also leaving out little something extras for skunks, raccoons, and possums that visit us each evening (you haven’t seen cute until you’ve seen a raccoon picking grapes off of a bunch of grapes – one at a time).
As the weather’s giving us a preview of Autumn in Kentucky and everyone’s beginning to talk about UK, U of L, Murray State, and Western Kentucky football and basketball… I’m reminded that there isn’t a better place on earth than Kentucky and no place I’d rather live.
THIS is Paradise and I thank God everyday that I get to call it home.
See Also: More pictures of Kentucky!