It’s all relative


New Underwood – 31 miles. Rapid City – 50 miles. Hot Springs – 100 miles.

These are mile markers found along Interstate 90 heading west. They are all towns in South Dakota. Towns that I have been to. Towns that are part of my history. Towns that my family have lived in.

Growing up in western South Dakota, I had family throughout the area. Most of the family were distant to me, not only in location, but also in relation. Second and third cousins, great aunts and uncles. Older than my parents and my grandparents. I know of them, but I don’t know them.

My grandmother was the wheel in the cog of keeping all of them together. She knew them all, was related to most, and kept them all in contact with each other. Ans she kept them informed of me and what I was involved in.

When my grandmother passed away, I tried to keep in touch with these distant relatives. I would send out a Christmas letter or card to them, for as long as I had a working address. As time moved on, I lost track of most of them. Many passed away and some moved without an address for me to track them with. Eventually, my habit of the Christmas card faded into a pleasant memory of something that I used to do.

My effort to keep in touch with my family was in an effort to not lose them. I moved to the other side of the state and moved on with my life. As it happened, my life overtook my time, and ultimately I did lose most of my family. Nearly all the distant family for certain, and some very close family as well.

I have attempted to rekindle my relations with my family. I have tried to “find” my family again. I find that as my life has a new focus, and my immediate family has changes somewhat, I am having some success in finding family. I have gained new family from my new Tiffany, I keep some family from my ex-wife Kelli, and I rediscover my biological family from a renewed effort to reach out to them.

I hope to continue to nurture my family and grow the relationships that I have. Time will tell, although I certainly hope that it’s tale is full of renewal.

Natural glitter


I’m riding in the backseat of a car, writing another story, when I look out the window at the passing landscape and I am amazed at the beauty of South Dakota.

The prairie is snow-covered and wind-swept. The snow glistens like glitter-speckled glass. The wind has made it so smooth that the sun reflects effortless from it.

Parts of the snow is not deep enough to cover the sagebrush, and it pokes out from its white cover. It cases snow to drift slightly behind it, making it appear rough and bubbly. Where the snow is deeper, it covers all, making a smooth white blanket that continues on until the distant end.

I see hay bales left by the ranchers. They are buffeted by the snow and wind. They are iced on one side with the white snow, like they were dipped in frosting. The cattle they are left to feed are also frosted with the snow and ice as they meander along the countryside looking for feed.

Soon enough, the plains give way to the Badlands and ultimately to the Black Hills on the western most side of the state. These natural landscapes only increase the beauty of South Dakota.

I have seen all of these areas many times during my lifetime. I have experienced them in all weather and at all times of day and night. They still amaze me and take my breath away each new time that I look upon them. I especially love the winter season. The snow makes everything so clean and pretty. It shimmer in the moonlight. The cold makes you long for a warm fire and hot cocoa. It reminds us of winter wonderlands and harkens memories that we may never have really had, but long for.

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Leather and Ozone


Reader’s Digest asked it’s readers to finish the following question

“The smell of my childhood is…”

Leather and ozone.

Growing up, I lived near a store named Haggerty’s Department Store in Rapid City. Haggerty’s was a local department store that carried clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, home goods, and musical instruments in the back. The also carried shoes.

I loved going into this store. The air smelled of fresh leather. It was stronger as you entered near the back entrance, but it was noticeable either way. It was a crisp scent, mixed with the air conditioned air. It was overwhelming initially, and eventually acclimated to a pleasing aroma that followed you out the door as you left.

I loved going into this store. The music department was a fun and interesting place to wander around in and touch. I couldn’t play the instruments, but they were shiny and wonderful. They smelled of leather.

I loved going into this store. The boy’s department eventually turned into the men’s department. We couldn’t afford the clothes in this store, but occasionally something special would come. I recall buying a belt in this store. It smelled of leather.

I loved going into this store. The ladies department was boring and uninviting to a young boy, but my grandma loved the clothes here. She couldn’t afford this store either, but she would happily spend time browsing through the racks. They smelled like leather.

I loved going into this store. My best friend Vic shopped here often. He would stop in and pick up random clothes as he needed them. I remember his buying a pair of shoes here once. They smelled of leather.

I loved going into this store. It was bright and friendly. It has a multitude of items to look at and it was inviting. I loved the fact that it had a front and back door. It always smelled of leather.

I have never smelled the same combination of leather and ozone since. The store is closed now. A grocery store now occupies the building that it was in. Unfortunately, it no longer smells of leather.