Some things have never changed in my nearly 60 years in South Dakota. One is the question that pops up When winter’s cold arrives each year. “Why in the hell do I live here?” In fact, when I think about it, it comes to mind any number of times between November and April.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it here for at least half of the year. But I still wonder why I haven’t rebelled against the cold and snow at some point over the last several decades. And another question inevitably comes to mind. Why in the world did settlers in this area stay in the first place?
Yes, I intellectually grasp the impact of the Homestead Act and the railroads’ push to link the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest. My wonder is more practical. Today, central heat and air conditioning are staples of life. Regardless of the insulation it provided, I can’t see making it through a winter in a sod house on a treeless prairie. Then consider the fact people were creating lives here before the creation of what is today’s National Weather Service. Even today, we’re surprised how quickly beautiful weather can turn into a blizzard. Imagine being on a long trek by horse or wagon to the nearest “town” or otherwise being a good way from home when the beautiful sunny morning becomes a whiteout by afternoon.
There’s no doubt I wouldn’t have survived as a settler on the plains. But still, why in the hell do I live here in the winter?
Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”