It’s hard to stop moving. It’s nearly impossible to sit still, like a stone. Silence is hard to come by. To be truly alone is exceedingly rare. Except in rural America. Midwestern grasslands and agriculture still hold space for this experience.
I’m alone at a tiny country cabin in Stratton, Colorado, just on the other side of the Kansas border. The nearest neighbor is miles away. The nearest town is dozens of miles away. I’m in a wooden rocking chair on a porch, and I can see for miles across the flat prairie farmland.
The arid climate leaves cracks in the dirt, dry plants crunch under my feet when I walk. At midday, the colors of the prairie look as if they’ve faded in the sun. The only sounds are the erratic mooing of the cows and their calves in a nearby pasture. Or the bulls in a separate pen with occasional snorts and dull thuds.
In the evening, the colors saturate and come to life. The hues blend seamlessly from dustings of yellow, to fiery pinks and oranges, to cool shades of blue and lavender. The sun is a ball of flames, like a mirage in the desert when it dips behind the horizon.
The breeze is blowing ever so slightly, almost silently. The air is crisp and clear. Just a short while later, there’s a navy comforter coating the plains. There is a sea of stars spread across the sky, uninterrupted and unimpeded by city lights. The sheer fabric of the Milky Way is a diagonal ribbon through it.
This is it. This is everything. There’s nothing more to it. And that’s the charm of it.
It’s as if we’ve forgotten this kind of quiet exists. Or more accurately, we’ve forgotten the effect it can have on us. City-dwellers drive the interstate highways between cornfields and grazing cattle and disregard it as boring and plain, putting up blinders to everything around us.
In this moment, this space, this silence, there is nowhere else to be but here, and nothing to do but this. This is the stillness we long for and we crave. It is right at our doorstep, and it is part of what makes the vast space of America so incredibly beautiful.