Two worlds, one state

Haley Johnson, Business Manager

To most Americans, Nebraska is a state where cows outnumber people, where Fields of corn blanket the state. The Omaha or Lincoln area is the only place people recognize as fun and engaging. The dynamic of Nebraska is unique to the other 49 states. The people who reside in downtown Omaha live in their big-city bubble, while to the west, others choose to live in wide-open spaces. Whether you choose a small terrace apartment, or a 10 acre property, no matter what lifestyle you prefer, Nebraska can give you something to call home.

I’ve got to experience the best of both worlds. For 14 years I lived in the endless suburbs of Millard, enjoying the trivial luxuries of drive-thrus and chain stores. Sophomore year my parents decided to buy a farm south of Springfield. Although this town was only 30 minutes away, I had never even heard of it before. Going from a concrete jungle to a little house with a cornfield was an interesting change, to say the least, but it wasn’t the houses that brought the most change. It was the town. Living in a town with 100,000 people, then moving to a town with give or take 1,000, felt like two different worlds. Our “neighbors” (people in the same four-mile radius) sent their warm welcomes and waves by passing car, but other than that I felt very secluded when we first arrived. A few months after we got settled, covid hit, and I was stuck on my little farm in a small town. Our 5.5-acre property got old fast, so it basically forced me to explore the town of Springfield.

It did take some getting used to. The town was only made up of two gas stations, churches, a bar, cafe, park, and coffee shop. Which all fits in a neat 0.69 square miles. Although not much to the naked eye, you could always find something to do if you tried hard enough. Good food and small-town gossip were never in short supply. When everybody knows everybody, your business is everyone’s business. The more I went the more it grew on me. The chef at the Wicked Hen cafe knows my order before I even come in, The gas station clerk at Pitt stop always waved when I came to fill up, and I always have great conversations with the drug store owner. The close-knit community did nothing but welcome me and my family.

You’d be surprised what you can find just a few miles outside of Omaha. I didn’t realize until a few months in that I could practically walk down to the Platte River. The Mopac trail in the summer is one of the best trails to run on. The view at Stone Creek Falls never gets old. Some of the best sights are things you all see at home, I just get a better view. The light pollution of the metropolitan area fades, and the stars shine brighter than I could ever see them back in Millard. Some nights it is so clear outside that you can see your shadow just from the light of the moon. Oh, and I forgot to mention my house is directly across from a Vineyard that hosts parties and concerts almost every night in the summer. Can’t beat free live music from your own front yard.

Country living has grown on me a lot more. Waking up with the sun, waving to everyone driving by, listening to country music… on purpose, and somehow I did acquire a cowboy hat along the way.  It’s crazy how relatively close this place is to Omaha, yet how different they are. As soon as you pass 370, the cornfields and gravel roads start leading you home. The sunrise views and cleaner air start to grow on you. It may be a bit tamer and quiet than deep city Omaha, but sometimes you need that open space.