On my other blog: lucindagardens, I have been doing a month of Thankfulness posts. As I look through the posts I follow on this site I, again, realize how sheltered and sometimes clueless I am in this corner of the world. It was almost thrown at me one day as I was visiting with a couple of hunters who stopped in our area. They said they really enjoy hunting around here rather than closer to some of the bigger cities in South Dakota or especially near some of the areas that have been featured in the Dakota Outdoors or some of the other hunting magazines. Their comment was that it is more fun when you are in the real “sticks.” I guess that is what you could call us, “the sticks.”
We are away from any “major” city by at least 100 miles. We are 6 hours away from any of the places that could be considered a mini-metropolis, and it is 12 hours to Denver and nearly as far to Minneapolis depending on the route you take. The only thing that makes us closer in time is the fact that you can travel 75 mile an hour on our Interstate highways, which sometimes means you won’t get arrested for going just a hair over 80. Then you find out that most semi-truck tires are not guaranteed for speeds over 70. Wow!!
Here we are in the middle of nowhere and yet we see the news. We hear the reports of what is happening around the world, and it saddens us. But in this sheltered prairie, we watch the sunrise and set, take care that the kitties don’t go outside when the hunting dogs are running, and we hope the twin deer make it through the season to raise a family by the creek next year. Life is about hearing the pheasant call in the morning and hanging the clothes on the line when the wind isn’t out of control.
Church is where we pray that the trustee and the treasure make it through their surgeries, and that the deacons are successful in repairing the ceiling tiles before the Conference Minister comes to preach the message for Mission Fest. It is where we talk about our children who live far away, and wonder if any of us will be here for Christmas Eve service or if we will all go to join family in other places. Community is when we all show up for a benefit to help out a clergy wife who is going through treatment for cancer. And just down the road we hear of a group of farmers who run their tractors to a neighbor’s place to put out the fire before it spreads in the wind that is pushing 20+ miles per hour.
I guess tonight I am happy to be living in “the sticks.” I like knowing who my neighbor is, not just from seeing them from time to time, but because I grew up knowing them or because I am learning about them by working with them at the community center when the mobile food pantry comes to town. I like being able to pick up the phone and call someone for their sister’s address to invite her to the next all school reunion, and then asking how her daughter is doing in medical school, and remembering when she and my daughter went to prom on a double date. Here we can almost say, “We are all sisters here.” And though we don’t mean it by blood, we mean it by a felt kind of kinship.
Growing up prairie isn’t something that some would want to do. Growing up frontier prairie was something that very few were able to handle. When this area opened up to homesteading, it brought all kinds. Some made it and some didn’t. Of those who proved up their land and eventually owned it, many didn’t stay. It was the stubborn, tough, unique type of person who made it, then bought out those who didn’t want to stay.
Those are the ancestors of we who live in “the sticks.” I am proud to be one of their descendants. Today, as I listen to the wind, and realize what it must have been like to listen to that sound while living inside a sod house, I am more than proud. I am thankful for the house that my great-grandfather built in 1917. Thanks Adam, Sr. for a house that is strong enough to endure the winds today as it did when you built it. And thanks for giving us a spirit tough enough to survive in these “sticks.” I don’t believe that I could ever be any other place. What was it that Dorothy said? “There’s no place like home!” Home in our sticks…