Marigold plant

The Marigold Capital of Kansas

            When Kenneth’s senior class took their trip, they were more ambitious than most–all the way to London, England.  What a difference from Midlin, their tidy, plain Kansas town.  And how different from the one city they knew, Wichita, sprawling and congested with beat-up cars.  London was bustling, dirty, compact and beautiful.  Flowers everywhere.  Even at the level of the open upper deck of the tour bus, which might suddenly stop next to a richness of color Kenneth had never before experienced. 
            When he returned, he wished for such unexpected flowers.  He and his friend Robert, whose father owned Midlin’s only lawn service, and who was easily sworn to secrecy, bought fifty small bags of potting soil.  Marigolds would be hardy enough to withstand the dry heat of a Midlin summer.  They stayed up all night, driving without lights, easing up to the courthouse, their school, Midlin’s City Park with its War Memorial arch.  They climbed the water tower and the grain elevator, even a few light poles.  To each place, they brought a bag of soil, slit it open, and stirred in the seeds. 
            Of course, Midlin noticed the bags sooner than the boys hoped.  Robert’s father spoke before the city commission.  They agreed to let the bags stay in place, wait to see what might happen.  First, a lush green.  Then orange, gold, and yellow in combinations that surprised even the most skeptical.  By midsummer, the commission declared Midlin to be the Marigold Capital of Kansas.  And by summer’s end, in terrible August heat, they ordered the volunteer fire department to “Water those flowers!”


"The Marigold Capital of Kansas" first appeared in Little Balkans Review







Wedge of box hedge

Toy car

Baggie with plant clippings

Marigolds sprouting from potting soil


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