Unlike my homeland in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, the South Dakota topography is such that allows for vast, unobstructed views of the horizon. As you might expect, the sunrises and sunsets are absolutely incredible. Each morning brings hues of peach and rose and lavender, occasionally glazed thick with fog. Evening arrives in a burst of golden yellow, leaving trees and grass speckled with fading light while their shadows dance on the walls inside. Night comes in vibrant blue as the orange horizon disappears, only to return at daybreak once more.
Even on rainy days, the skies put on quite a show. On my first Saturday here at the Wilder, Mr. Rusher and I headed out in the pickup to fix fence atop a big hill. It was a gloomy morning (although, gloomy is a loaded adjective because I happen to really love dreary days), and I was struck with an overwhelming sense of smallness as I looked out over the surrounding pastures. The massive storm clouds seemed to be neatly layered on top of one another in varying shades of grey—the darkest clouds were only made more ominous contrasted by the bright whites that framed them. In the distance, hills and plateaus vanished beneath curtains of heavy rain. Even the cows that dotted the pasture nearby grew increasingly blurry as a blanket of mist overcame them, and then us; my sweatshirt was soon neatly covered in tiny droplets that evaporated as quickly as they had formed.
On another cloudy day, the sky appeared as what can only be described as an egg crate mattress topper.
Of course, I can’t forget the cloudless blue skies that South Dakota offers almost daily—the kind that makes the plains look like that Windows background (you know the one), only better. I have yet to stay up late enough to go stargazing—but I have a feeling that when I do, it won’t disappoint.
By Savannah Robar. Savannah is a horsemanship intern at Ranchlands’ Wilder Ranch, South Dakota.