"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

High Lonesome



The Great Plains, first called The Great American Desert, because they're so open, so vast. Today you can zoom across them at 75 miles per hour in less than a day, but if you were walking, if you were in a horse-drawn wagon, the trip took weeks from the eastern cross timbers to the Rocky Mountains--more than 500 miles. We've lost that sense of space and slow time, and thus the value of place and companions.

I grew up spanning the Great Plains and value the far horizons, the open skies, the few people. A reverse migration is underway and much of the area is becoming more and more lonely as people leave looking for work and a future. Several years ago a couple of authors raised a controversy when recommending that we turn much of the Great Plains back into a huge buffalo reserve. It's not so far fetched, especially when the aquifers dry up and drought returns, making the energy crisis look as trivial as the blowing tumbleweeds.

Then only the hardy will remain in the Great Empty...inspiring more thoughts for another Christmas card...High Lonesome

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