There is something about the prairies that always gives me the feeling of coming home again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mountains. I love the feeling of making the final ascent onto a ridge and having a spectacular view unfold before me. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing your limits.
But, the prairies are different.
The mountains are an obstacle – something to be conquered. The prairies don’t ask to be conquered, they welcome you and comfort you like a blanket fresh from the dryer on a cold winter night. They surround you with soft glowing waves of yellows and gold. They gently wave in the breeze, back and forth like the rocking of a cradle.
Mountains are a harsh mistress – always teasing you with glimpses of what great things are to come if only you can do “this one more thing”. The prairies are a loving wife – there can be no secrets for everything is there to be seen. Nothing hides on the prairies.
Mountains are work. They represent the constant shifting of gears as you climb and descend the passes. The prairies are relaxing. They are an easy drive with an automatic transmission and cruise control.
The prairies are where I was born and lived the formative years of my life. I can remember riding our bikes out beyond the town limits where the pavement would end and the gravel would begin. Like characters from a W.O. Mitchell novel, we connected with the prairies in a way that transcended our environment. Irrigation ditches made wonderful playgrounds, endless fields in various states of harvest surrounding us at every turn.
As we matured our games may have changed, but the prairies remained our constant companion. Racing our cars up and down grid roads, performing “Dukes of Hazzard” fishtail turns, truly experiencing the endless sky and horizon only a prairie dweller really understands.
“There’s nothing to see.” This is a common lament I hear from those who don’t understand the connection. Perhaps that is the case to those interlopers who didn’t experience what I did. “Nothing to see? Why, on the prairies you can see EVERYTHING.”
I will continue to chase the mountains, to push for higher and greater summits. I have the security of knowing my prairies will be there upon my return. For, no matter how much we push the city limits and try to gobble them up, the prairies will remain – as they have been and as they ever shall be.