The beauty and hardness of the prairies

“The prairies are not an easy landscape. It is a natural reflex to be awed by mountains; huge and overpowering, they are a beginner’s landscape. Coastlines roll a rich variety of life and change before the lazy eye. Domestic landscapes of gentle hills, wooded groves, and small farms enfold a timid soul in warm security. But the prairies–like the high seas or the desert–are a challenge and a reward for the strong of spirit only. You may sicken and tire here, fall prey to loneliness and melancholy, and be driven out to seek refuge in softer lands. Or you may meet the challenge, your senses may sharpen, strengthen, and thrill, as space and landscape subtlety stretch you out like a transcontinental train at full throttle. You may rejoice in the powerful exhilaration of moving over the prairies, akin to sailing the seas, an experience of freedom bordering on intoxication. Yet this great freedom is only ever a hair’s breadth away from deepest loneliness.”

~ Norman Henderson, Rediscovering the Prairies: Journeys by Dog, Horse, and Canoe, 7.

One thought on “The beauty and hardness of the prairies

  1. Toni

    I wonder if he was travelling by horse, dog or canoe when he thought of that?


    Prairies hard? It depends on how you see things. There’s a hardness about a dry, grey and barren landscape, there’s a hardness in the African scrub where there’s no variety for mile after mile, but a prairie with wheat rippling like water is soft on the eye and easy to enjoy. Sure it doesn’t have the rolling
    sweet beauty and variety of the Cherwell valley, but then few places on earth do either. 🙂

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