Postcard from the Prairie: Walking Into the Wind
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South Dakota Prairie

It is the open doors, world full of wind time; days so bright, you begin to feel the heat that will follow. Outside the window, the lilacs bushes are finally beginning to bud, pointy green shoots are poking through the brown thickets of last year's grass, and overhead, the wind is blowing, blowing, blowing. Blowing up the dust, blowing up the heat, blowing and bouncing the branches of the emerald-misted trees. It feels a bit wild, to burst so suddenly into springtime, after waiting for so long. But the wind, there is no word to describe how it makes me feel: It’s the stuff of poetry, the sacred territory between getting lost and being found.

Oh, South Dakota, you are a study in extremes. You are a place where the slim chapters of warm weather are bookended by a novel’s worth of deep cold, and long heat, and always wind, wind, wind. Wind running till it hits the mountains, and finally finds the bristly arms of the pines trees to whistle through.

I remember the first spring I spent here. I had never felt anything quite like that wind--it was the soundtrack and the backdrop of every single day, and it was exhausting to push against. Every step to the barn and back, every step to the chicken coop and back, every step to the garden and back was shadowed with it. But, it was also exciting--what power! Without even realizing it, the wind has become part of how I navigate the world. It is a compass point that holds me steady.

Afterall, out here on the prairie, the wind only has us to whistle through with its lonesome and savage song. It is unrelenting, and it is how we Dakotans know we are home. So, we walk out and lean in. We don’t try to hide; we can not avoid it. It is bigger than we are, and it does as it pleases--a good reminder that we humans only occupy a tiny corner of the universe.

Today, I'll walk north into the wind to check the sheep, then I'll walk home again with it nudging me along the path. I'll collect eggs and feed the bottle lamb and calves, all the while the wind shout and call through the cracks in the coop and barn. And tonight, when I stand on the porch for a moment to gaze up at the bright sparks of the stars, the wind will still be working. Working and running while I finally lay down, and rest.