The sky is bigger in South Dakota


The sky is bigger in South Dakota.  

Wider. Grander. More expansive.

The motley of spotted, blotted, and streaky clouds—sometimes mixed together in just one sky—never fails to blow me away. The backdrop on which they mingle and meander is like a box of crayons; the sky’s colors range from vivid blues to pale shades of pink, purple, and cream.

Once, just as my family’s never-ending car ride from Grand Rapids to the Black Hills was coming to a close, the wispy clouds hung so low I could have reached up and touched them if I wanted to. From the backseat of the car, I imagined they felt like the stuffing of the teddy bear resting in my lap: soft and fluffy.

Evenings spent gazing at the sky from my grandparents’ porch are filed in my mind next to my best memories. Pictures could never do justice for the breathtaking sights, alas, I always pause to snap a few in a desperate attempt to make those precious moments everlasting.

South Dakota is my favorite place—not just because of the sky. 

Games of hide-and-seek in the dark at my grandparents’ house reign superior to any other outdoor activity. In these games, it’s impossible to lose—back tickles from my grandma’s heavenly hands come with the task of counting. The lilt in her angelic Spanish voice as she sings to twenty and her gentle fingernails swooping around my back send tingles down my arms and a smile across my face. 

Not much creativity is required to hide well in these games; a dark outfit suffices as camouflage in plush grass or a broad tree. But, that doesn’t stop cars from being climbed or bushes from being obliterated in hilarious efforts to win.

My grandpa typically heads inside before the rest of us to make batches upon batches of popcorn. The buttery aroma lures us in from our game; we gather around the kitchen table and reflect on the night we had as we eat and laugh.

On the other side of town, at my mom’s parents’ property, more wild fun is had. Riding in wagons down the steep gravel driveway, learning to drive on the paths that twist through endless amounts of cars with my grandpa in the passenger seat, and building Fort Fart for days on end clutter my list of favorite memories. 

Summers spent working at my grandma’s store—Miss Kitty’s Mercantile—allow me to meet crazy, exciting people. The thirty-minute car rides to and from lengthy shifts never get old; traversing the beautiful, winding roads quickly became one of my favorite parts of the summer. Impromptu ice cream runs across the street were the highlights of my unending workdays.

South Dakota is so much more than Mount Rushmore. It is a place of adventures—a place of laughter. 

It is my favorite place. 

It is my home.