Sunday, March 19, 2006

Prospect Hill Cemetery and other wonders.....

My youth was spent on mundane pursuits, most of which I can't remember now. My siblings, the neighbor kids, and I splashed barefoot through puddles after a rain. We picked dandelion, poppy, and rose bouquets for our mothers. Reading library books and listening to the radio each evening provided exotic worlds to visit through words and sound. But I can't remember ever noticing the beautiful sights around me. That came when I was older, much older, and wearied by the sad predicabilities of life.

Yesterday I visited what has to be one of the most awesome spots in Kansas, Prospect Hill Cemetery near Blue Rapids, Kansas. Early pioneers surely chose this isolated place for the peaceful vistas spanning miles around the cemetery. A brisk, biting wind froze hands and cheeks and soughed through ancient pine trees as we laid our friend to rest on Prospect Hill. Such winds are common in the plains and carry with them scents and spirits not present anywhere else on earth. Prairie winds howl down from the north in winter, roar in from the southwest in summer, stir gently through native grasses and trees in season. In childhood I can't recall loving or even noticing these winds, but I welcome them now.

Prospect Hill overlooks the vast Blue River Valley. In times primordial, native tribes enjoyed her bounty: riparian woodlands rich with game; pure water ever present, gushing from the heart of limestone cliffs; and great grassland prairies grazed by herds of antelope and buffalo. Seen from the top of Prospect Hill, the Blue River winds serpentine through a pristine valley. Black earth that once supported tipi villages of hunter-gatherers has now been broken by the plows of farmers for several generations, but despite the changes two hundred years of settlers have wrought, the Blue River Valley is still breath taking and sparsely populated. The face of this place was carved by an inland sea, the ice ages, the sediments of flooding creeks and rivers, harsh winds, and untold eons of time. That thought humbled me yesterday as my eyes and spirit took in the broad rolling river valley. And I wished that I could live there for what remains of my life, there with the changing winds and seasons at the top of Prospect Hill.

Jokesters call Kansas the land of Oz. Those who make jokes about the bland topography of Kansas have never been to Prospect Hill.


Josh said...

Prospect Hill is one of my favorite places in that part of Kansas. Believe it or not but when I was younger I used to walk from Marysville to Prospect Hill once in a while with my friend Craig. There are many things that you can't see from the river road that can only be seen if you walk down those old, abandoned railroad tracks from Marysville. I enjoy that part of the country on the east side of the Big Blue.
I remember being up there one time and hearing a woman's voice on the wind. We thoroughly inspected the whole cemetary and there was no one else there. It was very odd.
I love that place.

Tom Parker said...

Laurel -- I've been running so far behind that if I look real hard through my binoculars I cxan just make out my butt in the distance. Anyway, I wanted to comment on your recent post on Prospect Hill Cemetery, and to thank you for the kind words about me on your blog.
Prospect Hill Cemetery is, indeed, one of the finest views around. The sunsets from there are phenomenal, almost surrealistic at times. One can just make out the Little Blue where it joins the Big Blue. Excellent writing.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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