Despite the comparative emptiness of the place, Thunder Butte has lived on in my father’s memory as a place of magic and adventure, a place where the lone cowboy riding across the grassy plain is an heroic figure with abilities far beyond those of the average man. This was a place where even the creatures—ranch dogs, ponies, owls, and rattlesnakes found in the countryside—took personas and significance far beyond those that we imbue our pets with today. This was a place where the sound of the wind blowing through the grass or the breeze whispering through the branches of an isolated tree sounded like music against the silence of the prairie. Perhaps many places possess similar magic, as remembered through the eyes of ourselves, as children. On the other hand, if your life depended on knowing well the subtlest of changes taking place among the things and creatures of this secluded landscape, your memories would be sure to center on the things that really stood out, whether fantastical or merely poignant.
Somehow, living many years and thousands of miles beyond the time and place of my father’s childhood, Thunder Butte lives on for me as an exceptional and memorable place—a place both of legends and tall tales, as well as a place that has helped to shape me and my family. Although I think of it in sepia tones and grey—because those are the shades of the old photos—doing so does not subtract from colorfulness of lives lived here, or the grip that Thunder Butte has on my imagination.
Influences travel through families and time, reverberating like the wavelets that spread out in a circle from a pebble dropped in a pond. Whether for better or worse, the legacy of Thunder Butte lives on in me and my family today. I know it will help to shape my child and his view of the world. Even though he may never know the place other than through the stories of his grandfather, Thunder Butte—this still empty land—will continue to live on in the thoughts and dreams of my son and his children.
Mike Crowley Saturday, August 27, 2005 | (0) comments |