Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Road Trip, Part 7

We arrived at Dave and Mary Hendricks’ farm just before sunset and took one of their two guest rooms. Early the next morning, we awoke to the smell of bacon frying and sat down in the kitchen with the couple for eggs and biscuits. Dave said a grace, with everyone holding hands. “It looks to be just about a perfect day,” he said later. “And it being Sunday makes it all the more so.”

The Hendricks grow wheat on 625 acres and raise draft horses. While our wives did the dishes and talked, Dave and I hauled pails of grain to the barn and walked about.
“Why do you call this place ‘Thistle Hill’?” I asked.
“Well, we’re up on a rise here,” he answered.
“What rise? This land is as flat as a skillet!” I said.
“I guess it’s all a matter of perception.”

We leaned on the fence, watched the horses mosey in their corral. The constant breeze was starting to make my ear ache. Turning 360 degrees, all I could see beyond the house and barn was wheat and sky.
“Doesn’t the loneliness of this place get to you?” I asked Dave.
“You get used to it,” he said. “You learn to appreciate people more when you don’t see them so often. I tell you, what drives people crazy out here isn’t the loneliness. It’s the wind.”

We lingered as long as we could at Thistle Hill, but we had a long drive to Denver ahead of us. You can never forget that chilling feeling of standing beside a gravel road on which the only tire tracks are your own, feeling so separated from mankind, sensing what the Indians and the pioneers must have felt standing on this windswept ground so long ago – that realization of how small and inconsequential Self is to Nature, on the prairie and under the big sky.

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