You can see forever. What at first seems to be a featureless, rolling plain when viewed from a distance, unfolds into gulleys, draws, and arroyas as you get closer. A lone tree here, permanently bent by the unceasing winds, a rocky sedimentary outcrop there, these serve only to underscore the great distances stretching before you. Acres—no, hundreds of square miles, of high plains grasses, Big Bluestem and Indiangrass and Switchgrass, undulate in synchronized waves under the persuasion of the stiff breeze.
How far can you see on these high plains of Kansas? You can see until the very curvature of the earth swallows all, from horizon to horizon. It’s overwhelming and beautiful at the same time.
The early pioneers were terrified by the immensity of the high plains of Kansas, so claims western writer Louis L’Amour. Knowing of his extensive research, I have no reason to doubt his sources.
What had been featureless plains 250 years ago, now contain the sparse artifacts of those early visitors. A crumbling sod hut, a decaying one-room cabin, a few fallen outbuildings, comprise the widely scattered evidence of some earlier dream. A lonely windmill, its vanes long since stripped away by a combination of rust and high winds, stands as a mute sentinel to the ambitions of some hardy soul, long since departed.
Traveling Interstate 70 (a road that seems endless itself) through Kansas is a trip through American history for the observant—if you have eyes to see. Alas—too many drive that road with hardly an eye, or even less, a thought for the lives and dreams of those who went before, whose only “road” was a rutted trail. America was built by such as these.
Truly, there is a dark side to the American past. But is that all you can see? Has the beauty of this land become obscured in your eyes because of the injustices of America? Those who see only the sins of our country are looking with a sadly blinkered vision.
Despite the corruption of sin, the beauty of God’s creation persists. For those with eyes to see, there is an enduring beauty of this great land of America, such as that of the high plains of Kansas, or yes, the cornfields and byways of Darke County.