June 12 – For a change a pace, here’s a brief review of a program we attended in Kansas City back in April. Our son-in-law Harvey (more like a son), picked us up to drive to downtown Kansas City to the Kauffman Center. Hardly ever do we drive in to Kansas City, so we are always amazed at the beautiful buildings down town. Years ago when we first moved here from Pennsylvania, we needed to find a dentist. Someone told us of the UMKC School of Dentistry in the downtown area, but after we found a dentist much closer to us, we hardly ever went “to town.” Craning my neck, I could see the tops of the high rise apartment buildings along with government and commercial ones. As I was looking around, Harvey said, “Do you see that strange-looking building? It’s Kauffman Center, where we’ll be seeing Joel Sartore who has had many stories published in National Geographic.”
The Kauffman Center is one of the most complex buildings in the world. Taking nearly five years to finish, it has 40,000 square feet of glass,(how do they ever get washed?) and 25,000 cubic yards of concrete. The Great Hall has a glass ceiling and sloping glass walls that make it possible to view Kansas City to the south. The twenty-seven steel cables keep the glass lobby in place.
When I first saw those glass windows in the hall, I was amazed. Looking all around, I saw nothing but glass and the cables holding everything in place. We seemed to be so high up above the ground, not only from where we stood, but towering way above us. Though I knew that it would not be dangerous to step right up to the windows, I still wasn’t sure whether I should take a chance on doing that! Finally, bit by bit I did step right up to the edge; nothing broke, I didn’t sink down, and there I was, still a bit afraid, but glad I had taken the chance. It isn’t every day that one can be suspended in space with only a cable keeping you from falling!
The program was entitled “Grizzlies, Piranhas, and Man-Eating Pigs.” Dale has always from a little kid been tied up with all kinds of the wonders of nature, and was looking forward to this night for months. I could almost hear the sigh of contentment, along with excitement, as Joel Sartore was introduced.
As Joel came out to the stage, I could tell right away that he was a really friendly and happy man, and we enjoyed his beginning remarks; his humor was evident right away.
It seems as if photography and his hope to save endangered species are what makes him do what he does.
Joel is a speaker, author, and teacher. For twenty years he has contributed to National Geographic, and has worked on every continent. Joel has been chased by wolves, grizzlies, musk oxen, lions, elephants, and polar bears. When not in the wilds, he has written for Time, Life, Audubon, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, and been also featured on Explorer, NBC, NPR, and a documentary for PBS. After a sometimes scary screen presentation of his meetings with all kinds of animals, he fielded questions from the audience.
As we left the theater to get to the garage where Harvey had parked, we hurried as fast as we could. Dale and I had no idea where we were going, but fortunately we could see Harvey’s head far above most of the departing crowd and followed him closely. We still marvel at the way Harvey found his way back to the main arteries leading away from downtown and on to more familiar routes and home! Poor Harvey – while we could sleep in the next morning, he had to be back at the farm for work! – CHRIS