I was watching a PBS show I taped months ago about the fight for wilderness, about the feds designating vanishing landscapes as wilderness and so protecting them. In the west, the "frontier," it's a special issue where ranchers and ATV hounds love their private access and call it freedom, but it can be destructive to wildlife. Yet environmental groups who sit down with ranchers often find that they are not at odds, but want the same thing just in different ways. What is here is almost gone.
I think about the people that have come before, and that I live on a farmer's field, perhaps a pioneer's, on land once traveled by the Pawnee and Cheyenne and Sioux. On bison range. On prairie chicken booming land. On thick stands of bluestem as far as one could see. These voices barely echo anymore. These are the apparitions we willingly slaughtered.
And then it occurs to me--bison and bluestem are not the ghosts, but we today are the ghosts, searching for our place in the world, our meaning, still as hungry to conquer our fears and feed our desires in the landscapes around us. We are the mirages, the apparitions longing for something we lost or never had, wandering the earth, condemned to find our souls in places that can no longer hold them. This is America on the Great Plains.