A Reflection on the Black Hills of South Dakota

There is solace here, amid the rocks and weathered pines, there is solace of a lonely and transcendent sort. There is also wisdom. Running through the somber valleys and grass and scrub. This land has existed far longer than stone tools and sedentary agriculture, waiting, maintaining, perpetually offering its stage for life, death, and renewal. One can almost hear the land and animals and sky, a chorus of connected pasts across an unfathomable geological scale of time and dimension. You can feel the energy, the sagacity of eons, flowing, hidden, but somewhere near the surface. It’s electrical, ubiquitous, and always seems just beyond, just a hairsbreadth away from the ability to understand. Humans have their own monuments to creation and invention, in our cities, cathedrals, theaters, and engineering marvels. But so does the earth. These mountains, and their coterie of grass and trees and creatures echo loudly a patient, beautiful, and stoic legacy. A history drifting on stray gusts of air, bound up in tiny bits of pollen, carried around by squirrels and fish. The Black Hills are beautiful, and mysterious, and philosophical in an ineffable way. I’ve been to few places as haunting and subtly vibrant, and I’m sure, if I ever drum up a will or a way to return, that they will be there waiting.

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