Came forty-five years ago with apprehension -- even reluctance. The first problem with identity was in trying to answer the question," What's a forester doing in western Kansas?" I finally learned that crying was not an acceptable response. I searched for Quivira, thinking that it must be just over the next hill. When I reached Elkhart, Tribune, Sharon Springs, and St. Francis and found no hill, I decided my values needed adjusting. Like the tourists hurrying to the mountains, I had accepted someone else's (not a Kansan) mistaken opinion at western Kansas is a part of the "Great American Desert". After rearranging my thinking I was able to see and appreciate the beauty of... the wind driven rain that lashes the dry prairie soil into frantic growth -- -- -- the grain elevators that sit Shepherd like tending the flocks of golden wheat heads... tumbleweeds on fences that build bridges for tomorrow into the next field. I felt the security of the blue prairie sky penned neatly along the horizon -- by grain elevators. I found the people tough in body and resolve and gentle in spirit. I found a purpose and renewal within myself. I found the fulfillment of working sharing with the people of the prairie. These 45 years have been the most rewarding of my entire career.
I am hungering after a Prairie Spring
where the wind rustle's low through
the soft golden curls of last year's grass
and air grows warm
in ancient bison wallows.
Overhead, nearly out of sight
a thousand sandhill cranes
turn great, French curves
on gleaming wings
crying their madrigal.
Townsendia would be blooming now,
hidden easter-daisy bright on limey ridges,
and fuzzy, two inch Crimson drabas
opening white, crossed flowers.
Meadowlarks warbling clear and bold
from stone post barb wire fences --
fit to burst
could ease my city winter bruises.
-- -- Roberta Comstock