What I Love About the Boom

Ah, yes, I drove across the ND prairie last weekend and it was so beautiful that it was hard to describe. The crops are magnificent and I stood in wheat up to my waist. There were all these little pot-hole ponds and sloughs and relics of days gone by in old school houses and old Lutheran churches and old homesteads, abandoned now and moldering into beautiful shades of gray and brown. I took my camera and photographed them, for soon they will all be gone. Another time has come and change is in the wind and in the dust of hundreds of trucks hauling supplies to oil rigs...change has come again to North Dakota.

The prairie has been changing for eons and once was not even a prairie, but an inland sea. There weren't any domestic animals such as you see now of black and red Angus cooling off in the ponds on a hundred-degree day. They were huge and dinasourous in those days. And in the Lewis and Clark days they were buffalo further than you could see and elk and antelope and deer and grizzly bears and wolves and a fantastic people that made their living from these things and had a whole culture and world as much loved as we love North Dakota now. Then came the settlers and the little farms and school houses and churches and small towns and cows grazing all across the prairie and other people with hopes and dreams, what we know of North Dakota in recent past. I imagine they thought it would last forever and hoped it would. But then the homestead farm didn't last either and the little towns emptied out and all those sentinels of a hopeful past are moldering now in moss and lichen and overgrown shelter belts and leaning at absurd angles and falling down and rotting in the earth.

I think we must listen up and although I do not know what we should hear, can we really love or hate this change? Or are we called to embrace it somehow without understanding it necessarily?; it is here anyway! Is there good that comes to many with employment and new people coming to the prairie? Perhaps they will learn to love it as the predecessors have. And although a disregard and hemorrhage happens to the old way of life that will never be again, little sleepy towns and old farmsteads gone, a new and vigorous life arrives and the old gives way to the new in unprecedented creativity and possibilities.

Such it seems is this prairie that I love so well and like so many others can find no beauty in an oil well site or burning flares that shut out the star light, or hundreds of trucks tearing up the roads. I'm leaning at absurd angles these days and moldering into shades of gray and brown. If only I can catch a moment in the camera of what once was before it is all gone, then good for this generation and my soul. But for a New North Dakota, an ever-changing prairie, a New Soul and New Life has begun!



One Comment

  1. john says:

    That’s beautiful, Chris. You have a pretty interesting take on things, especially considering you have such a personal attachment to the place. Always good to hear from folks with ties to the land there.

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