Like a lot of people who grew up in Nebraska, I spent my childhood daydreaming about moving away to somewhere more exotic. When I grew up and the military sent my family thousands of miles away, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Little did I know that I would miss my home state like crazy. After three years, when we had the chance to resettle anywhere in the country, we chose to come home to Nebraska – and we’ve been here ever since. This place has a hold on me that I can’t explain, and if your comments are any indication, Nebraska has a solid piece of your heart, too. These are some of the reasons I choose to live here. What are yours?
1. Fresh air.
The air here is clear and sweet and actually feels good in your lungs.
2. ...And the smell of alfalfa.
When the alfalfa fields are freshly cut, driving down country roads is nothing short of blissful. That smell will always mean home to me.
3. Amazing skies.
Whether it's sunny, storming, dawn, or dusk, the sky in Nebraska always looks beautiful - like nature is putting on a show just for us.
4. Solitude...if you want it.
It's not hard to find a place in Nebraska to just be alone for a while. We're the #43 state in population density, which means there are plenty of wide open spaces when you just need to get away from everyone.
5. Simple natural beauty.
You can't tell me that's not a heart-touching picture right there. The green field, the puffy clouds, the unpaved road...that's so Nebraska.
6. The sound of night.
I spent my childhood summers at my grandparents' rural home, and I was always blown away by how
noisy the country was...in a good way. The sounds of nocturnal animals and insects are so comforting to a Nebraska native.
7. Speaking of the wildlife...
I've always been an animal lover, and Nebraska is the perfect place for me. I get to hear the crazy jungle-like calls of the barred owls and the plaintive coos of the mourning doves. There's a squirrel that scratches on our front door when he wants some sunflower seeds, and it's not uncommon to see families of deer scurrying across front yards. It's like living in the beginning of a Disney movie.
8. The incredible colors of fall.
This is one of the things I missed most about Nebraska while I was away. The leaves get so colorful and crunchy in fall, and the air has the most amazing crispness. It's one of those things that you don't really notice until it's gone, and when it's gone you miss it like crazy.
9. Pristine water everywhere.
Lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks...you're never far from water in Nebraska, despite this being a landlocked state. Fun fact: Nebraska is actually the only triple-landlocked state in the country, meaning there are at least three states between us and an ocean. But that's ok - I'll take the freshwater any day.
10. There are parks everywhere, too.
I think I've made my love of our state parks pretty clear in previous articles. We really are very lucky to have such awesome places to spend our days outdoors.
11. There are small towns, mid-size cities, and wilderness all in close proximity.
You can go from middle-of-nowhere countryside to small town to city in just about no time in Nebraska. You can live in a tiny town but still be a shortish drive away from world-class dining and entertainment.
12. The people here really are friendly.
Are there rude, mean people here? Of course - they're everywhere. But the majority of Nebraskans are actually kind, thoughtful humans.
A perfect example of Nebraska niceness happened a few weeks ago when I was out shopping with my family. I was rushing two of my kids to the mall bathroom, apparently with a crazed, semi-panicked look in my eye because one of them needed to get there five minutes ago. A woman noticed us and stopped to ask if we needed any help. I was too frazzled to say anything more than "no, thanks," but I was touched by the sweetness of that stranger taking notice and offering her help. Thank you, nice mall lady, wherever you are!
13. Country roads.
This view kills me. So it's not a sandy beach or a lush forest...it's pure Nebraska, and this is what home looks like to me.
14. We Nebraskans don't take ourselves too seriously.
Most people here seem to understand that the world doesn't revolve around them. We help each other out, we laugh at ourselves, we form communities to keep each other safe and happy. Some other states could learn a thing or two from us.
15. There's always something new to explore.
It would take a very long time to experience everything that Nebraska has to offer. Just when you think you know all there is to know about our home state, something new pops up and makes you fall in love with Nebraska all over again. It might be a simpler life here than you would find in many other places, but it's by no means boring unless you really want it to be.
These are just one writer’s thoughts and experiences; your mileage will almost certainly vary. Whether you live here now, have lived here in the past, or are just a fan of our way of life, share with us in the comments – why will your heart always be in Nebraska?