Photo: Yellow flowers against a blue sky

Photograph by Jim Richardson

<p>Photo: Photographer Jim Richardson</p>

Photograph courtesy Jim Richardson

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

I can’t tell you how many times visitors to our gallery point to the picture of the lush, green hills and ask, “Which part of Ireland is that?”

With great patience (and infinite relish!) I then proceed to point out that what they are looking at is not Ireland—it is Kansas. Every bit as lush and green in the spring as anything you’ll encounter in Ireland (and I’ve seen a bit of Ireland).

So right now, with the Flint Hills bursting into bloom, as the wildflowers make their stunning, delirious sprint to bloom and reproduce, I’m making my own pitch to anyone who hasn’t yet discovered it: The hills are absolutely alive. We have come to expect this of other places. We expect to be stunned in Texas Hill Country, we expect to be blown away by the Sonoran Desert, and, yes, we know that Ireland will take our breath away. They’re all beautiful (and maybe they’ve gotten good press over the years).

So forgive me for getting up on my soapbox. It’s time for us Kansans to stop downplaying the wonders in our backyard. So let me just say this: The time I had photographing the wildflowers of the Flint Hills matched anything I have encountered around the world. And I’ve seen a bit of the world.

But the wildflowers of the Flint Hills can’t afford to dally. They’ve got real work to do and not much time. Their business is life and death to them and they’ll not linger waiting around for you to get out there in your own sweet time.

Good luck!

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