News from the Secretary

News from the Secretary By Larry Gabriel Did you miss it?

It may be an unchangeable truism that people never know what they have until they lose it, but I hope not.

I don't object to the idea that most of the world knows nothing about South Dakota. In fact, I sort of like the idea.

I like the fact that I can still find solitude out in the open, with nobody watching and nobody stumbling into the middle of my thought. My thoughts are cluttered enough without that.

That people don't know us might not be all accident. You could ask just about anyone to name "the dairy state" and they will tell what state that is, but we keep the outsiders guessing.

We have had four different state nicknames that I recall: the coyote state, the sunshine state, the Rushmore state and (my favorite) the land of infinite variety.

If you never stood near "goose corner" near the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge and watched hundreds of thousands of geese fill the air, you missed something.

If you never saw the beauty of a Fairburn agate in your hand, nor the awesome beauty of the Needles mountain area above your head, you missed something.

If you never stood in the center of the state and watched the B1 bombers marking the clear blue sky from an air base two hundred miles away, you missed something.

If you never caught a German brown trout from the Red Water River with a fly rod, you missed something.

If you never floated down the Little Missouri when the only sound for miles was that of water and an occasional meadow lark, you missed something.

If you never sat quietly on your horse and watched a doe lead her twin fawns from their hiding place to the old water hole, you missed something.

If you never heard the lowing of a cow as its newborn calf had its first meal, you missed something.

If you never stood in the middle of miles of deep green head-tall corn and listened to it talk with the wind, you missed something.

If you never stood with a brisk wind in your face and watched thousands of square miles of prairie being painted green with the brushstrokes of spring, you missed something.

If you have never sat alone on the top of a hill and waited for the wind to bring you a small touch from the spirit of Crazy Horse or your creator, you missed something.

If you never paused long enough to listen to the hearts of the people who live on this land, you missed it all.

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