Things don’t change here. I live on the edge of nothingness, next to loneliness and despair. This is the plains of South Dakota, the farm where I grew up. I’m still here. I’m not sure why.
My grandparents, a pair of stoic Norwegians, homesteaded in 1912 and laid claim to some of the last free tracts of land offered by the government, determined to make their mark in the soil. The harshness of their lives is engrained in every pioneer picture ever taken. Serious faces tell sad, hard stories, clinging to the last vestiges of sanity hoping the next year would be better.
My father filled my early years with talk of unpaid bills and the high cost of food versus the low cost of grain, and how politicians were the root cause of it all. He had a lot of die-hard views on life, his way or the dumb way, and he never listened to much more than his own voice. I think negative grew in the corn he planted. According to him, the farm’s best year was when hail wiped out our crops, and he had bought the right kind of insurance. Strange how tragedy made him smile.
Summers blow in with a wind so dry and full of sand it’s hard to open your eyes. Rain is a thing of mystery, aloof and hidden in clouds that fight for survival against the sweltering sun. Yearly precipitation comes in the form of snow, the hard biting kind that beats against your face and makes you burrow your head into your shoulders. Wind is a constant companion. It blows across an expressionless landscape void of trees and contour.
There must have been hope here at one time. It’s hard for me to see it. Next year will be the same as last. I’m still here. I’m not sure why.