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The many splendors of Kansas City’s fall colors

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With the bright autumnal colors of peak foliage, Halloween and fall elections all fast approaching, Kansas Citians have been enjoying a colorful October—after suffering through a long hot dry summer that faded grasses from bright green to bleak brown.

The bad news: Last summer’s drought not only parched the Midwest plains, and devastated heartland crops, but it also took its toll on urban trees. Young trees died, and mature trees will die in the next few years because they were weakened by the long hot dry summer. Kansas City homeowners are being advised to get out the hoses this fall and early next spring to keep trees well watered, according to the Kansas City Star.

The good news: Remnants of Hurricane Isaac brought the Kansas City area some much-needed rain after the dry summer, reviving fall crops and re-growing green grazing pastures. Another added bonus to the recent rains: Kansas Citians are being treated to a fiery display of red, orange and yellow autumn colors. Alan Branhagen, director of horticulture at Powell Gardens, told the Kansas City Star that this fall’s colors may be the best he’s seen in his 16 years at Powell Gardens.

Another hue that has become an autumn tradition is the color pink, October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “The stink of pink has taken over October. That Pepto-Bismol color is everywhere I turn. Not even the fountains are safe,” said Kansas City Star columnist Jeneé Osterheldt. “Yes, I’m all about women’s issues, and breast cancer awareness is a recurring topic in my column,” Osterheldt continued, “but the color becomes blinding when big corporations slap pink on any and everything to hustle their products.”

Meanwhile, the color green, though now fading from the leaves on the trees, has become a primary color of autumn in Kansas. Even in the deeply conservative outland of Kansas (where few are friendly to the “green” ideas of Al Gore), farmers with land to lease are warming to the ideas of alternative energies—especially windmills, with wind blowing abundantly over the plains of Kansas.

In central Kansas, the town of Greensburg, completely rebuilt with green technology after being leveled from a 2007 tornado, serves as a shining example. In Salina, rural schoolchildren celebrated last Halloween, searching for “vampire” electric loads, or appliances that sap energy even when they seem to be off, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Energy-efficient LED lights twinkled on the town’s Christmas tree.

These days, there’s also some government funding backing green pursuits. In October 2009, Kansas City recently received a $4.8 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve energy efficiency throughout KC

Politics have kept both red and blue on the minds of Missouri voters, with very divisive presidential and congressional campaigns in the works. However, this time around both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney are both ignoring Missouri as Romney is a shoo-in to win the state.

Meanwhile, Kansas seems to have eschewed blue altogether, as the state (which always votes republicans for presidents) has turned all red with a governor, both senators and all congressman of the republican persuasion. In fact, Kansas may become even a deeper, darker shade of red with moderate republicans likely to be replaced by far-right conservatives this election.

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