Earlier this week, I took a long-planned trip to take the kids to see some extended family in Arkansas.
My roots. My home. Arkansas.
As it turned out, Hubs and I were doing some channel surfing the night before I left. We surfed past an episode of PrimeTime/Dateline/20/20/Whatever-They're-All-the-Same. It was an old unsolved mystery set deep in the hills of rural Arkansas, not too far from where I grew up.
I don't know if you've ever watched a news report or documentary set in Arkansas, but I can positively assure you of one eternal truth about such a show: at least one of the characters will have a chicken in his yard.
It's true. Every time.
It doesn't matter what area of Arkansas politics or history or culture is being discussed by the particular media outlet. It could be a hard-hitting report about the Wal Mart corporate culture or a timeline of the Clinton presidency.
But there will be a chicken. Always, a chicken.
And I've always felt a little indignant about the media's portrayal of my home state, truly. I know that Arkansas has its fair share of...well, of yards with chickens in them, but there is some lovely culture there, too. There are rivers and mountains so beautiful that the scenery would take your breath away, and there are some very cosmopolitan and brilliant Arkansans living very enlightened lives.
How dare the media make such assumptions, I thought to myself, as I finished packing for my trip. I set out the next afternoon, the van loaded down and my heart happy to be headed toward home. I passed over the Arkansas state line and breathed deeply, my eyes gazing at those lush, green, rolling hills.
What a treasure this place is, I thought to myself, knowing that those media types would never get it.
And I'm not kidding you, the words had barely left my mind when I noticed a mound on the side of the interstate. I looked more closely.
It was a pile of dead chickens.
I laughed to myself and I reached for my iPod, cranking up the Toby Keith.
It's good to go home.