Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prairie – Story #5

The horse shifted underneath him as he gazed across the natural prairie grassland. About half of his land remained untouched by the plough and he treasured every acre as if it were priceless a work of art. Behind him vast fields of wheat rolled like waves in the wind, the cultivated order a contrast to the wild grasses. He knew every inch of the land as well as he knew himself.

From his perch he could see low rolling hills, hiding places for the wild creatures that made the grasslands their home. Deer, elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, badgers, and many types of birds populated the area; occasionally a wolf would pass through. His cattle also used the hills for shelter, but today they were out in the open flatland near the slough. He smiled to see the young calves by their mothers side; the bull stood apart from the herd, easily distinguished by his great size.

He nudged his horse to a walk, steering it away from the small patch of cactus at his feet. The diversity of plant life never failed to astound him: cactus, sage with its fragrant leaves, wild roses with pink blossoms, numerous kinds of grasses, and an astonishing variety of wild flowers. He could never understand the city people who found the prairies boring. To him they were more beautiful than life itself.

Some days the wind would tear at him with the ferocity of a thousand tigers, but today there was just a soft breeze, scented with the perfume of sage and a thousand flowers.

He and his horse slowly made their way south, the horse not needing any guidance from his rider, it knew the frequently travelled trail well. When they reached the bottom of the hill, the tallest on his farm, the man dismounted and dropped the reins, sure that his mount wouldn't go far. He wanted to walk to the top himself, savouring each moment. With each sure step, more of the land surrounding him became visible; he loved the slow reveal.

When he reached the top, he walked over to the ancient stone circle that was almost overgrown with short prairie grasses. Carefully he walked around it, imagining himself as the long ago shaman that once worshiped there. When he came to a break in the stones, he stepped through the entrance, into the centre of the circle. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, the aromas of sage and grasses filling his lungs with life giving air. The sun shone strongly on his shoulders, a giver of life as well. Opening his eyes and looking out over the wild landscape he felt himself become one with the land. No church service would ever compete with the spiritual experience he was immersed in. He felt weak at the knee for a moment as the feelings washed over him.

A loud squeak brought him out of his reverie. With shock he saw that he was sitting in a wheel chair, in a garden. He looked up at a face smiling down at him; there was something familiar about the younger man, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

Confused, he shut his eyes and retreated back to the grasslands where his spirit was free and his legs were strong.

~