Saturday, August 8, 2009

Coming Home to the Flint Hills

When I left behind the concrete roads in town to live in the country, I escaped the constant noise, lights, and the troublesome intrusion of neighbors. I traded away some conveniences for peace and quiet. I left behind constant sirens and traffic and regular occurrences of property theft, but welcomed intimacy with the phases of the moon and an unobstructed view of the sky.

When I first moved to Spirit Creek Farm, there were no rural road signs at every intersection. My address was a mere route box number. I loved it. After turning off the highway, for almost five full miles of road, there was nothing man-made to reflect the truck lights in the dark. It seemed as if the headlights were not bright enough but it was just miles of natural surroundings absorbing the light.

Noticing the way the prairie reaches unevenly into the edge of the gravel road was a small and constant delight. Nothing was a straight line, not even the fences. The soil moves constantly, slowly pushing the fence posts out of alignment. The cattle rub and lean on the wire in their quest for the proverbial greener grass, and the prairie constantly encroaches on the road. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Even the road itself is natural, being only dust and gravel that constantly shifts with the rain and baking heat and the cursed attention of the road grader. A deluge of rain will sculpt the gravel into ruts and wide washes, and melt the shoulders into the ditches.

For several seasons Venus was particularly prominent in the winter western sky. Her brilliant silver disc reigned just above the lowering final glow of sunset. Descending into my valley hidden in the rising night, only a skyline of hills was visible. The flaming point of Venus against the deep orange and violet of sunset was immensely beautiful. I often stopped for a few transcendent moments. The deep shadows of twilight hid every trace of anything man-made, revealing the entire vista as the living memory of the prairie as it existed in millions of untouched seasons - long before human eyes witnessed its grace. Oh, it was beautiful.

It is beautiful.

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