Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Prairie Home Companions

Abandoned homestead, Kidder County, North Dakota.

North Dakota is a photogenic place. Not only are the prairies, sloughs, and roadside ditches full of birds, the landscape stretching across the horizon is dotted with old farmsteads, granaries, and farm equipment.

Old tractor skeleton near Lake Juanita, North Dakota.

There's something deeply haunting about the loneliness of an old house or barn sitting out there in the middle of a vast sea of grass, having survived decades of harsh winters and baking summers, the constant push of the prairie wind—and even outlasting the hopes, dreams, and lives of the people who built and lived in them.

I find myself standing alone, gazing at the lichen-covered wood and wondering about the people who lived there. Until a bird song nearby breaks the spell and my mind returns to the present, I am lost in the past with a tinge of heartache for all that is no longer in this very lonely, very beautiful place.

In North Dakota there is earth and there is sky and there is water. We people move across the scene like bit players on a vast stage, leaving behind some small evidence of our passing, the prairie grass waving a constant goodbye. Listen! The birds are already singing about tomorrow.

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