Sweet Prairie Melody
a year ago, early June
“This is the spot.”
“The spot?” Cue the incredulous glances from the driver up front.
“Yeah. Just roll down the window.
Trust me. I’ve been here before.”
The average traveler rolls through this land as if it is a massive pockmark on the face of the earth undeserving of attention, mind blurring into other places he could be. Already, Montana's rolling prairies and South Dakota’s gentle knolls are out-of-focus in his mind, fading to a vague bokeh of memories.
As the average traveler plows across the long roads of the rural West, the only stops he sees reason to make are for gas and the occasional snack. The millions of acres of dusty grass he has bypassed are ignored. And in this, he is gravely mistaken, for the average traveler is blind to the prairie's ultimate joke. Inside a silent vehicle all senses are stifled, only the occasional whispered words of "where to" and "next stop," breaking tireless monotony.
Only the most intrepid of observers know the land’s secret: that after driving a hundred miles on a lonely road, there is no magic greater than that of rolling down your car window on a cool prairie day and listening.
The grass is no longer grass. Instead, each blade is the core of creation, beginning with the mellow gurgling of the meadowlarks, then rising with the confident tinkling of a thousand billion Horned Larks humming from within the roots of the grass in a great chanting chorus, then accelerating to a frenzied climax until the final rapid trumpeting of a triumphant Upland Sandpiper stuns the prairie to silence, only floating calls of longspurs left drifting through the air like fog to touch the ears of the listener gently and lull him further into the hymn of creation. As the chorus dies down, the prairie hums and pulses with a supernatural buzz. Sound continues to emanate from the heart of the land and flow richly like mist through the roads, reaching to anyone who will stop and listen. And the observer slips further into his surreal afternoon dream.
And yet as wondrous as it is, what the observer hears is but a remnant from centuries ago. 150 years ago, when the land of the grassland was untouched by the silence settlers from the East brought with them, imagine what magic the prairie must have held. We will never know. Perhaps we will just have to be content to stop by the road on a breezy Midwest morning, roll down the window, and dream.