Distant Lands

We are on the road this week and I’m just able to squeeze out a quick post. There is no snow here, or ice to slip on, or anything that remotely resembles winter. It’s none other than beautiful Nevada! So without further comment, I will let Nevada do the talking.

See you next week!

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Stretch

I’ve visited family in Georgia many times over the years. It’s a beautiful place to visit, lots of sights to see, and lots of trees! Oh the trees! But I’m never as happy as when I can get back to South Dakota so I can “stretch my eyes”.

One of the great things about living in a state like South Dakota is the wide open spaces. There is nothing more beautiful to me than seeing miles and miles of nothing. Other than in the Black Hills (think Mt. Rushmore) and the southeastern part of the state, (think Newton Hills State Park) you’ll see just that….nothing. Miles of natural landscape that invite your eyes to relax. To stretch. In a place like Georgia, you just don’t have the opportunity to do that. While beautiful, you usually can’t see more than a quarter mile in any direction because of the trees. I mean, how do you see what’s coming for crying out loud?

Driving through our state for the first time can be a real eye opener (pun intended) for those not from here. They just can’t believe the nothingness of what they are seeing or, not seeing as it were.

You may ask what this infatuation is with wide open prairies. There are as many answers to that question as there are South Dakotans (869,666 in case you were wondering). Some would tell you it’s the purity of the landscape. Others might say it’s the sense of not feeling pent up. Many say the land provides an opportunity to clear the mind. To think. To meditate.  Still others will tell you it’s none of your business and to go away. We are an independent lot like that sometimes.

For me, it’s independence. To be on the prairie with nothing to see but grass for miles is freedom.  It’s peaceful and serene. It’s like God started a painting by first laying down the basecoat of flat plains and rolling prairie hills. Then, covered it in grass, deer, antelope, and at one time bison, then thought, “Nope. No more. I think I nailed it!”

We take pride in living out here on the prairie. As I’ve mentioned before, we find an independence and feeling of gratification to know that we can make it in this land. But it’s much more than surviving. It’s also experiencing the stillness of the prairie locked tight in the icy clutches of winter. The heavy silence of an approaching storm on a hot and humid summer day. Storms that can be seen for miles, giving ample time to batten down the hatches and take cover. And once the fury subsides, the stillness, purity, and freedom return.

For me, I prefer the prairie and plains. Oh, I’ll come visit you …… and your trees. I’ll even love it while I’m there. But don’t expect me to stay long. This Everyday Dakotan can’t go long without stretching his eyes and searching…..for nothing.

Welcome to Dakota Country

 

As I sit at my desk writing this first entry of the Everyday Dakotan, there’s a lull in the blizzard that’s been raging outside my window all morning. I’ve already gone out and shoveled three times. I expect I’ll be back out in another couple of hours when the storm wraps back around and drops another six to eight inches.

Such is life in the Dakotas.

We pride ourselves on our toughness. We Dakotans’ have the capacity to weather winter storms, raging tornadoes, and blistering heat. When the north wind blows 50 mph and blinding snow freezes every exposed piece of our flesh, we are in our glory. We have the chance to prove to ourselves, and to anyone that will listen, just how tough we are here in the Dakotas.

Don’t get me wrong. We complain. We complain a lot. You are not a true Dakotan unless you complain about the weather.

However, no matter how much we complain, we NEVER complain about the weather in front of strangers. More specifically, out-of-state strangers. We brag about it! We want out-of-staters’ to know, or at least think, that freezing body parts off is normal for a Dakotan. We want them to know that we are a tough lot and that there is not a snow storm made that can phase us.

“Yea, I only have three fingers on my left hand. Froze the other two off during the big storm of ’83. So what? No biggie. I got five on my other hand. So, I’m good”.

Things like that.

And may the Almighty protect the person from another state who complains (or brags) about their bad weather. The Georgian who goes out and buys a three week supply of survival food just because Atlanta got an inch of snow. The Texan who complains that 40 degrees is just a might cold to be out riding horses. Don’t be surprised if we make fun of you.

“Bad weather? You don’t know NUTHIN’ about bad weather. Why, when I was a boy……..”

You know the rest of the story.

But it’s not just Dakotans’ that pride themselves on being “weather tough”. Everybody gets bad weather. Everybody complains about the weather. But like us, they don’t complain to out-of-staters’. They brag about it!

“You got 15 inches of snow in the Dakotas huh? Well, last August it got up to 120 degrees in Phoenix! I WISHED we had some snow, let me tell you!”

 “Rain? RAIN!? You ever been in a hurricane son? Come on down to New Orleans and I will TELL you about rain!”

And so it goes.

Whether it’s heavy snow in the Dakotas, torrential down pours in Louisiana, or excessive heat in Nevada, we all complain/brag about the weather.

But I think deep down we truly don’t mind. Because deep down, we truly love where we live. We love it so much that we put up with what Mother Nature throws at us. We wear our suffering like a badge of honor. We might complain amongst ourselves, like members of a family. But we brag in front of the neighbors! We brag about being tough because it makes us feel independent. It makes the place we live feel extraordinary. It’s our opportunity to say, “Hey! Look at me. I can survive here in this special place I call home.” And there is no place like home.

 

 dakota, snowblower, snowdrift, winter storm

This is how you get out of the garage in Dakota Country!

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got another 16 inches of snow-pack to shovel out by hand…going up-hill…into the wind. No big deal. Such is life in the Dakotas……

……and the life of this Everyday Dakotan.