Home on the Range6:00 PM
The wind rushed over the rolling hills, rippling through the prairie grass and sunny cornflowers, creating the effect of a rushing current. To the West, the mighty Big Horn Mountains scratched the purple sky with audacity. As the sun set, pinks and reds melted into the evening sky while clouds curled up and around the mountains in a misty haze like smoke coming from a hundred insignificant fires.
Walking along a silvery strip of a road which interrupted the prairie landscape, a punctuated "SQUEAK!" interrupted my thoughts. After a pause, I continued forward. Another "SQUEAK!" rang out, this time with an angry gusto that would not be ignored. There, by a chain link fence, an outraged prairie dog shook his fist and gave me what for. As I stood there listening to his dramatic oratorio, the perturbed creature disappeared down a hole to alert his friends about the enemy. Following this abrupt exit, a chorus of squeaks and yells rose from the prairie as concerned neighbors bewailed their plight. There, in a miniature valley, between the hills, stood an entire prairie dog colony; and each of its' inhabitants was determined to give me a good piece of their mind.
As one popped up and another vanished, it gave the effect of there being hundreds of the small critters who disappeared into small burrows only to resurface and stare dumbly at the grass before them. Laughing at the living game of "whack a munch," I continued my formerly peaceful evening stroll.
Across the road, a lively herd of antelope froze in their tracks to watch my progress with wise concern. It was a different world out here in the wilds of Wyoming. Surely, just beyond the bend, a covered wagon of homesteaders would appear, or perhaps an Indian brave, carefully hunting a wild buck. Time seemed to stand still on these rugged plains.
The town of Buffalo itself had hardly changed in a hundred years except perhaps to exchange horse and buggy to automobiles. The townsfolk seemed to live an entirely different reality than one to which I was accustomed. Here, it didn't matter whether you had traveled much, or seen the ends of the earth. In this realm, no corporate games mattered, and there were no "get rich quick" schemes. The only trophies one could take real pride in could be hung off the wall, in a regalia of taxidermied glory The wealthiest citizens were those who worked hard and spent long days on their ranches, roping steer. Priorities were family ties, a roof over your head, and living a good, wholesome life, dedicated solely to God and country.
I never thought I'd be studying culture within my own nation. There was much to be admired in the simplicity of these people, a certain nobility of character I've found sadly lacking in much of the world. Here, car doors and house doors remain unlocked, guns are for hunting, and hard work is both respected and admired.
As I walked against the wind, I breathed in the air of my native continent and felt my heart at peace. There's much I can learn from these Midwestern folks. Though I love the heat of the battle for a person's soul, or the roar of an airplane engine taking off to a faraway place, there's much to be said for those who fight the battle of the home front. These remnants of the good old pioneer stock in whose blood must still ring the cry, "Further in, further west!" have somehow managed to maintain their heads in a world gone mad. Though I know in my heart there are more battles to be won on lonely, distant fields, this resting place affords a glance into those lives whose calling it is to "live a quite and peaceable life." (1Timothy 2:2) Places like these give me hope that someday, when those giants have been fought and won, there will still be one small corner of the world in which all things that are true, noble, pure, and good will remain.