Saturday, July 23, 2011

traveling south dakota

Moving to South Dakota was a no-brainer for me. I packed up and moved my life because the universe put the right wheels in motion, allowing me to be in the right space at the right time to meet my soulmate. Okay, the term is overrated. But if you strip it down to the essentials, it works. My soul had met its match. The one thing my soul hadn't bargained for is that this soulmate would have a complete life in South Dakota.

With nothing holding me in Texas, except perhaps my love of really good Tex-Mex, I followed the wise little voice inside and here I am. But that's so not the story. The story is that there are things about this place that I fell in love with. And that every so often I have to remind myself that golden plains that stretch forever have a beauty all their own. Often, it's the drive to the country that gives me the chance to remember to find the things that are good, and beautiful, and worth experiencing.

On our last road trip I took some notes, and this me, observing the South Dakota east of the Missouri River.

It appears that summer has finally come to South Dakota. Corn shoots popping their heads up out of the rich soil as we drive north on Highway 29. Aging barns dot the hills surrounded by tiny fields. I am struck by the neat and even rows and the lack of unruliness. Plants grow evenly and winding paths split the neverending fields like the lead separating the colors of stained glass windows.

Strange how a stand of old cottonwoods suddenly appear and the trees spread their leaves and branches right in in middle of a perfectly groomed cornfield. Who decided to let them stand, and why?

Gray-brown barns and outbuildings show thier age, struggling to bear the weight of years. Siding holds tight to crossbeams at twisted angles and sloping metal roofs bow at passersby.

The weather has not been kind today. Strong winds and rain twisted sturdy tree trunks leaving them bending and crippled. Sheets of water washed the pavement and left puddles for geese mothers and their young to splash. The sun sets slowly in the rainwashed sky. Tinted gray, it teases us with the possibility of yet another storm.

Cows, sheep and goats feed on the still wet vegetation that grows just to nourish them.

In the distance, a windfarm rises like 100 giant tin soldiers ready for battle. Their white armor is sleek and new. Swirling blades face the setting sun in a constant salute. Some farmers sell off large pieces of their land to make room for this new breed, yet cattle graze in their shadows.

We pass fenceposts and silos, and I am reminded of the life I used to have in Texas. There are a few differences between the flat prairies of South Dakota and the neverending spans of Texas cattle country. Where there was once a rusting metal railroad bridge flanked by catci, spindly mesquite and sage brush, there is now a solitary oak and a huddle of hay bales.

If memory serves me, the stretches of emptiness along Texas roadways offered a bit more color and had more signs of a history. Out here, one farm leads only to another, and while I know that men and women have lived on this land for hundreds of years, they have left few signs other that the cultivated fields.

Beauty? It can be found everywhere if we take the time to look.

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