August 2020

Ringing bells

It is always a bit tricky when you are talking about what time it is or even what day it is when you think of the world as a whole. Japan is 15 hours ahead of Mountain Daylight time, so when we talk to our daughter in the evening, it is the next morning in Japan. We have had some fun with the time change. Our grandson was born in the morning in Japan, so we received the news in the evening here. I said to the people in a meeting I attended that evening, “Our daughter just had a baby tomorrow morning!” Although his birthday is July 12, we knew of his birth on July 11.

In general, we have recognized August 6 wherever we are as the day of commemoration of the detonation of a nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Last evening, however, we rang bells in commemoration at 5:15 p.m. local time to correspond with the actual time of the blast. Last evening, I accompanied members of 1st Congregational Church who are also, like us, members of Rapid City’s Japan Sister City group, as we rang the bell at the church. One of the tasks I had neglected when I left as pastor of the church, was teaching others how to manually ring the bell, so I agreed to go over and assist and teach about the bell, which, as usual, was a bit glitchy, but did ring a half dozen times.

Hiroshima was an important military target during World War II. It was an important industrial and shipping area and home to the Second General Army, which was responsible for the defense of southern Japan. The Second General Army consisted of 400,000 men, but most of them were in Kyushu at the time anticipating an invasion of the island.

The bomb, the first of only two atomic bombs ever used in warfare, detonated over the city. The force of the blast was vertical at the center of the blast, which allowed the structure of a few reinforced concrete buildings, designed to withstand earthquakes, to survive. Most notable is the dome over the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, now commonly known as the A-bomb dome. Due to a cross wind, the center of the blast was slightly off target and the explosion was almost directly over the Shima Surgiclal Clinic. An intense firestorm followed the blast as wood frame and paper houses burned. Fire barriers were ineffective in preventing the fires.

An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 civilians were killed by the blast and firestorm with an equal number injured. Nearly 70% of the buildings in the city were destroyed. The mayor of the city was killed. An estimated 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in the city were killed.

Although there has been some debate about the use of atomic weapons at the end of World War II, such conversations do not change the fact that decisions were made in the midst of a brutal world war that had already claimed the lives of millions. World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. With an estimated total of 70 - 85 million casualties about 3% of the world population at the time. With such death and destruction, it is meaningless to try to compare the suffering of one group of people to that of another. The total of 3.1 million Japanese casualties is enormous, but small compared to 24 million deaths of citizens of the Soviet Union. It was a terrible war with huge casualties and atrocities nearly beyond imagination.

It is a simple fact that the bombs were dropped. One over Hiroshima and one over Nagasaki three days later. Six days later, Japan surrendered to the Allies and the war came to an end.

We were blessed to be able to visit Hiroshima in 2018 while on sabbatical. We were able to spend most of a day exploring the peace park that has been constructed in the area around the center of the blast and to see how the city has been rebuilt with a monument to world peace at its center. A museum contains artifacts and tells the story of the bombing and the aftermath in the city. A large park, filled with trees and shade, provides an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the history of the war and to imagine the possibilities of peace. I was a bit surprised as how emotional it was for me to be in Hiroshima and once again be reminded of the events that occurred just prior to my time on this earth. Fortunately no nation has used such weapons in war since, though we grew up under the shadow of the treat of nuclear war and we live in a time of increased threats of war.

The simple acts of ringing bells and recalling the events of the history of the world are important. As the philosopher George Santayana has been quoted over the years, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Remembering is an important part of human development. So we joined with people all around the world and rang bells last evening. The sounds soon faded from our community. Some who heard the ringing bells did not know the reason they were ringing. We didn’t ring the bells to make a statement to others, but rather to remind ourselves of the history of our world and of our role in building its future. We rang bells to remember the pain and loss and grief that war produces. We rang bells as a sign of unity with the victims and those who continue to grieve. We rang bells to dedicate ourselves to living lives of peace with our neighbors all around the world.

As the bells were ringing, I remembered walking up to the Peace Bell near the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima. The large Japanese bell hangs in a small open-sided structure. Visitors are encouraged to ring the bell for world peace and we took our turn to ring the bell, its loud tolling ringing throughout the Park. May it continue to ring.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!


When our daughter was an infant cable television came to our town. We were living in rural North Dakota at the time and I didn’t think much about it. My home town, where I grew up, had developed a local cable television system when I was a child. We lived far from commercial broadcasters and the only way to get television signals was to have a huge tower on the hill that received television from 80 miles away and then transmitted it over a cable system to the town. Since we had a tower on the hill and the cable system, the owners of the system also put a television camera on a weather station installed on the tower. We had our own weather channel that displayed time, temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction. Whenever we turned to that channel and the windspeed was displaying zero, we knew that the wind had been so strong that it blew the anemometer off of the tower again.

At any rate it happened that at the time that cable television came to our town in North Dakota our church was in the process of installing new siding on the parsonage. With all of the siding removed from the building, it was an easy task to wire the house for cable TV. We weren’t big watchers of television, but it was figured that the next pastor might be, so cables were run to the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. When we had moved into the parsonage it became known throughout the church that we didn’t own a television set and members of the congregation kept offering us their old sets when they got new ones. We accepted one such offer, but didn’t watch television too much.

However, on occasion I would watch a bit of television when I was up in the middle of the night changing, feeding and settling our daughter back to sleep. She wasn’t one for sleeping all through the night and she suffered from earaches from time to time, so there were plenty of nights when getting her settled was a challenge. I struggled to remain awake as I held her and gave her a bottle. One night I turned on the television and found a channel that was playing reruns of the sitcom M*A*S*H. The show had run its last episode just three days after our daughter’s birth. Over the next few months I watched a lot of episodes from past 11 seasons. It was probably the time in my life when I watched the most television, even if you count my current tendency to watch a couple of YouTube videos nearly every day.

What i remember about that time in my life is that I was too tired to read as much as I wanted. Getting up in the night with the baby, trying to juggle my job as a pastor, caring for the baby and her 2 1/2 year old brother, scrambling at a variety of part time jobs to supplement the modest income of a pastor in a small church in a small town, I was constantly a bit short on sleep. I know that memories change as we go through life, but I remember it as a season of not reading as much as was my custom.

It wasn’t the first time, I struggled with a balance of sleeping and reading. When I started college, I went off with the habit of reading myself to sleep every night. I read novels and short stories and whatever I could find. It didn’t bother me that I would wake up with my head in a book and my glasses slightly out of kilter. Then I went to college and my reading load went up a great deal and I needed to retain the information from the books I was reading. I had to shed the habit of falling asleep when I read. I stopped reading in bed. I made up different ways to keeping myself focused when I read that included pinching myself on the inside of my elbows. I made it work.

Throughout my life, my ideal of vacation or having time to myself included reading whatever I wanted. I have always maintained lists of things I want to read when I have time. I love bookstores and libraries. I have gotten pretty good at finding things to read with my tablet computer. I generally have a book “on hold” in the library’s ebook department. So I imagined that retirement would mean that I would be able to read wherever I wanted, or at least that I could read a lot more.

Now, decades after all of those experiences, I have come to that moment and I have discovered that I am not reading nearly as much as I thought I would. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had to renew a book at the library, something that isn’t common with me. I can read nearly any book in a two-week timeframe. I still read every day, and I’ve got a couple of magazines that I read cover to cover every issue. I have a couple of books on hand that I am reading, but I’m not spending the amount of time reading that I thought I would. I even catch myself watching youtube on the computer when I could have been reading a book. It is different from when our daughter was an infant. I could stay awake to read. I have the time to read and I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity.

I continue to surprise myself. I know that this particular phase of my life is temporary. We’ll get through the process of moving and I’ll have a new home and a new set of activities. I suspect that there will be plenty of things that need to be done and I won’t have all of the time in the world, but I know I will make time for reading. I always have.

The thing about me and reading is the more I read the more I want to read. There are entire libraries filled with opportunities for the years to come. Boredom won’t be a problem.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!

Herman Melville

One of the joys of a long marriage is that there are plenty of topics of conversation that we have covered in the past often enough that we know what the other is about to say. We have little in jokes about topics that mean little to others yet to us are signs that we know each other. In general, I dd not take advantage of high school in the ways that Susan did. She was a good student in high school and took advanced placement classes, graduating near the top of her class in a large urban high school. I learned to become a good student, but mostly after high school. In many ways I did the bare minimum to get by, earning average grades and leaving high school at the end of my junior year. As a result it surprised me to learn that she never read the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

I have teased her for years that her education cannot be complete until she reads the novel. She, of course, knows the general plot of the novel. Captain Ahab goes on the search for revenge against a great whale that he believes is responsible for his having lost his foot. The story is narrated by a sailor named Ishmael. She doesn’t see the need to read a novel that was published in 1851, at the height of the US whaling industry and a century before she was born. I was surprised to learn that she wasn’t required to read the book, which was a part of what I considered to be the catalogue of books that all high school students read. I actually hadn’t minded reading the book that much.

The novel is a very complex book. Melville draws on complex areas of human study including zoology, astronomy, law, economics, mythology, philosophy and teachings from a wide range of different religious and cultural traditions. Melville himself having served as a sailor on whaling ships had a wide interest in other human ventures. At one point Ishmael quotes Plato and expounds on the history of philosophy. The book has a unique writing style as well as its subject matter. In one monologue, Ahab challenges Moby Dick in Shakespearean style: “Towards thee I roll, though all destroying, but unconquering whale. To the last I grapple with thee. From hell’s heart I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” Another chapter is written as the script of a play. The ship’s crew is multi-ethnic with African and Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese and Tahitian sailors on a ship based in Nantucket in the United States.

Of course, Susan is a well-educated woman who continues to read extensively. She can converse intelligently on a wide range of subjects and though I don’t admit it to her, she probably does not need to read the novel, which can be boring at times. So much has been written about the book that she already has sufficient knowledge of it and its ideas.

Still, it has been a fun, recurring conversation between the two of us.

Then, last week, sorting through the shelves and boxes of books that have adorned our home for decades, I came across a box of books that I had brought home from my mother’s cabin. Among the books were additional novels by Melville: White Jacket, Typee, Bartelby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno and Billy Bud. I have not read any of them. Our task is sorting. We have committed ourselves to the discipline of moving only a small fraction of the books we own. I’ve already donated eight boxes of books and expect to shed even more before moving day. It should be easy for me to place a small collection of paperback novels tin a box to go to the mission. Strangely, however, those books have gone in and out of the box to give away three or four times in the past few days. Right now they are sitting on the corner of my desk, but there is a space just right to receive the books in a box ready to be taken with other items to be given away.

There is no problem with giving away any of the books in our collection. Our son is a librarian. We have access to any books we want. I am becoming accomplished at finding books to read on my tablet computer and I have a list of books that I want to read that is much longer than the rest of my life. If I want to read any of these Melville novels, I can easily access them through the library. I don’t have to remember their titles. Melville is famous and he was a prolific author. He wrote 11 novels, 17 short stories. He published five collections of poetry and numerous articles in magazines that there still available on the Internet. I could devote a year to reading Melville, but I know I will not.

The books, however, hold much more potential for fun for me. One idea that came to mind that I won’t pursue now that I am writing it in my journal which Susan reads, is to pack them away and wrap one book at a time and give it to her for her birthday for several years to come. It would allow the extension of the joke and provide more laughter and good natured conversation for us in years to come. Probably the joke would become old before the books were given. More likely I would forget where I put the books and not be able to find them when here birthday rolls around.

I suspect that I may one day read more of Melville. Frankly, I think I’d like to pick up a book of his poems rather than another novel. I have a sense of his style as a novelist and wonder about his poetry. Does he experiment with style in poetry as freely as he does in the novel? There is one short story, however, that I suspect I will never read. It is titled, “The Paradise of Bachelors.” I’m enjoying the paradise of married life far too much to have any interest in the life of a bachelor.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!

Crowds are gathering

In preparation for a minor outpatient medical procedure we are practicing strict isolation for a few more days. As a result we decided to head a bit higher into the hills to walk yesterday, where we knew we would be away from other people. we encountered only a half dozen others during our walk and they were careful to maintain distance. In addition to beautiful weather, our walk was enhanced by the solitude of the hills. As we wound our way along the Mickelson Trail, we were surrounded by wildflowers that are a product of the slightly higher elevation. Summer is short and sweet in the high country. It is also intense and vibrant.

Between our home and our hiking spot we went through Hill City. I don’t know if South Dakota is unique in how cities and towns are named, but we have a lot of places that add the name “city” to their official location name. We have Rapid City, North Sioux City, Hill City, Big Stone City, Central City, Claire City, Mound City, Garden City, Lake City and Prairie City. Most of them probably wouldn’t be considered to be “cities” in other parts of the world. After all, Prairie City is unincorporated and has about 20 residents. Hill City has only about a thousand. Rapid City is the only one with more than 3,000 with a whopping 77,503, which isn’t a “big” city in other states.

Nonetheless, we like Hill City, our close neighbor to the southwest of our home. It is the home of the 1880’s Train, a fun ride and a great attraction for guests who come to visit. Hill City is also the oldest existing community in our county, organized before Rapid City. We decided to take a quick drive down main street to see if there were any motorcycles in the build-up to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which officially begins on August 7. In a typical year, the hills fill up with motorcycles a couple of weeks before the rally and remain full of bikes for a couple of weeks afterward. The towns in the hills have motorcycles lining main street parked as closely as possible and the sidewalks are filled with riders who are checking out the shops and the vendors who are set up on nearly every available space. Of course 2020 is not a typical year.

There were, however, plenty of motorcycles parked on main street in Hill City yesterday. The beautiful weather invited riders to go out and explore the beautiful winding roads of the hills and Hill City is a good place to take a break and get an ice cream and talk with other riders. We knew, before we got to Hill City that there would be plenty of bikes, because we had seen them on the road and there were plenty of bikes parked and people wandering through the tents and shelters where highways 385 and 16 come together before you get to Hill City.

The City of Sturgis, which is incorporated as a city and boasts nearly 7,000 residents, bills the annual motorcycle rally as “10 days/nights of riding, food and music.” The decision was made, in the late spring, to proceed with the rally despite the pandemic. 2020 is the 80th annual rally and anniversary years usually bring big numbers. The 75th event in 2015 boasted more than 750,000 people. If you just do the math on that one, putting more than 100 times the population of any town or city will result in a bit of crowding and a bit of overflow. No matter how crowded some of the concert venues became, there were lots of people in all of the nearby towns that August. There is always plenty of spillover when there is a rally. And, of course, people who are drawn to a motorcycle rally love to ride their bikes and so they don’t want to stay in town all of the time. The hills offer some great roads for motorcycles and the rally attendees take advantage of those roads for organized rides as well as independent trips.

So we are headed into a couple of weeks where a whole lot of people won’t be practicing physical distancing in the hills. And we weren’t seeing many face coverings as we drove down main street in Hill City last week.

All of that means that practicing strict isolation will be a challenge for us this week. It isn’t hard for us to stay at home. We have plenty of groceries in the freezer and pantry. We don’t need to go shopping. But Susan’s procedure will take place at Monument Health, the largest hospital in the region on the day before the official start of the rally. With the total population of the entire region at less than 200,000, our regional hospital is big enough to provide a full range of medical services, including outpatient surgery. There are certain types of care, such as cardiac care where the hospital serves an area with a radius of about 250 miles. Most of that space isn’t heavily populated, so it is possible that the hospital’s primary service area includes 250.000 people. Invite guests at the rate of the 2015 rally and that quadruples the number of people that the hospital needs to serve. And, three quarters of those people are riding motorcycles on winding roads, most of them not wearing helmets. You get the picture. No one who works at the hospital gets to go on vacation during the rally.

Since it can take a couple of weeks for a coronavirus infection to express itself in symptoms, it is likely that a spike in infections as a result of the rally will result in many people not knowing they are infected until after they have gone home and the hills have returned to our usual population. For those of us who live here, however, being diligent and doing what we can to avoid infection means staying away from crowds. And the crowds are starting to gather all over the hills.

So be careful out there. Wash your hands, cover your face, and avoid touching your face. We will be staying at home and hoping for the best.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!

Church in changing times

In 2008 Phyllis Tickle published a book entitled “The Great Emergence” in which she spoke of massive transitions that have come along about every 500 years in the history of the church and provide for upheaval in church and society. Tickle uses the analogy of a rummage sale to make her point. Every 500 years or so the church has a big rummage sale and gets rid of a lot of clutter. In the book she argues that we are now experiencing one of those massive events.

I belong to a group of clergy who read the book together and discussed it at length. There was general agreement that indeed we are experiencing a major upheaval in church and society. We recounted how the printing press played a pivotal role in the Protestant Reformation. Once people could have a copy of the Bible in their own hands, they were freed to read and interpret it themselves and were less dependent upon a church hierarchy to give them an official version of the meaning of faith.

Somewhere in our conversations one of my colleagues said something that reminded me of a conversation I had participated in many years earlier in which we were discussing television evangelists. Someone was arguing that the mainline church had missed the boat when it came to television and should have been quicker to take up the media. I remember arguing that the cost of production-quality television was simply too expansive. To have embraced television as the primary media of Christianity would have meant that millions and millions of dollars would be diverted from mission and ministry to media. The mainline church, I argued, would have sent itself to oblivion and ceased its ministry through such extravagance. The counter argument was that television produced positive revenue. The televangelists were getting rich off of their sermons. It was one of those conversations that doesn’t end in a resolution, but I remember thinking that I didn’t have any desire to be a televangelist and the work of such a person didn’t resemble at all what I thought of as ministry. I didn’t want my professional life to be caught up with staff meetings and production meetings and lighting checks and sound checks and rehearsals. I didn’t want worship to be dominated by entertainment-quality music and the role of the pastor reduced to being a kind of master of ceremonies. I didn’t want to have to work to the clock to the extent that long readings of scripture were eliminated and the preacher abandoned the lectionary for a couple of short quotes of scripture. I didn’t want to have the same theme for worship every week: the only way to escape eternal punishment in hell is to declare Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

In later conversations, I would simply say that my career involved doing a lot of work that the televangelists don’t do. I provided the face-to-face counseling, I comforted the grieving and performed the funerals. I officiated at the weddings and dedicated the children. I held the hands of the sick and dying. I prayed with those who were troubled. I did all kinds of work that televangelists never did with their media-focused ministry.

Given all of the conversations and thoughts of over four decades of ordained ministry, it doesn’t surprise me that there are a few voices in today’s society who will say that online is the future of Christian worship. The cite the low cost of producing online worship and point to the few who have garnered huge groups of subscribers and followers and predict that the future is media focused and that institutional churches with their insistence on in person worship and meeting together at the same time are relics of a fading past.

In a sense, it might be true. Retiring has quickly made me feel like I am a relic of a fading past. It is obvious that the pandemic has forced a radical shift in the way that churches constitute themselves and most congregations have embraced online worship as one of the components of their ministry. As a worshiper, however, I have to say that watching others engage in a form of worship on a computer screen is spiritually unsatisfying. It doesn’t feel like the development of meaningful relationships. Also, quite frankly, it feels like congregational leaders are putting less energy and effort into creating meaningful worship. Much of what I have seen online has been a bit thrown together with less than professional editing and sudden transitions. It is hard to feel like you are praying with others when the screen image is stock footage of sped up clouds moving across a blue sky or a close-up of a somewhat contorted face of someone trying to keep their eyes closed to show that they are not reading the prayer from notes. After a career of carefully choosing the words of prayers and producing thousands of prayer manuscripts, I think that there is still value in crafting language to express the concerns of a community rather than speaking only of one’s personal concerns in prayer.

Somehow having a video posted on the Internet that I can watch at any tome from any place is a poor substitute for gathering for worship where we pray together, hear scripture together, listen to a choir together and build community together.

One of our professors often said, “You can’t be the body of Christ all by yourself.” Often, when I am watching worship online, I feel very lonely and isolated. I don’t feel like I am connecting to a community. I don’t feel like we are being the body of Christ - the church.

I suppose it is possible that I am simply a product of the past. As a minister who spent his entire career focusing on relationships and building community through in-person ministry, I am not at home in the Internet age. As a seeker of wisdom and truth, I don’t know my way around a post-truth culture. If so, I’m comfortable with that. Just as I allowed television to pass me by so that I could minister in the midst of a congregation, I am not worried about the Internet leaving me behind. I suspect that there are still many ways that I can serve people while others figure out the future of online worship.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!

The city meets wild lands

rc hike1
Shortly before we left Idaho for South Dakota, we had a conversation with our friend Chris about our plans. Chris worked for the USDA Forest Service. Most of the time he worked on mapping and planning for the management of National Forests, based in Boise, Idaho. But, as was true of many of his colleagues, he could be summoned and reassigned at a moment’s notice by the Interagency Fire Center, which was also located in Boise. The Interagency Fire Center deploys personnel and material resources to large wildfires wherever they happen in the United States. Chris had to be trained not only for making maps and preparing planning documents for forest management, he also had to be trained for deploying and managing resources for fighting large fires in a wide variety of different terrains, settings and situations. Our conversation with Chris included his telling of a recent training that he had participated in that focused on the urban wild lands interface. Fighting a fire in a forest requires a particular set of skills, training and equipment. Fighting a fire in an urban neighborhood requires a different set of skills, training and equipment. I paid attention to what Chris was saying because we had just purchased a home that was on the edge of the forest, not far from National Forest land. Chris was familiar with the name of our subdivision, Countryside and told us that the neighborhood was featured in one of the training films that he had just watched.

Over the years since that time, we have grown to deeply appreciate the interface of urban areas and wild lands that is Rapid City. Rapid City is located right where the Black Hills meet the prairie. As the city continued to grow after a devastating flood in 1972, more and more private homes were built into the hills on the western side of the city. Leaving a flood control green space alongside the creek, the city stretched itself out into the hills and also onto the prairie to the East. Our home is in a neighborhood that for most of the time we’ve lived here was outside of the city limits. Since we have been annexed, the cul-de-sac at the end of our street is the farthest the city stretches in that direction. Beyond that, private land continues for a short distance, but it is not highly developed and soon the National Forest begins. We have known that there is a risk of wildfire sweeping across the forest and into our neighborhood and have tried to be responsible in the maintenance of our property to prevent wildfire from starting here and to make it easy for firefighters to defend the structure were a fire to come.

city hiking trail
The urban-wild land interface is not just about preventing and fighting fire. It also provides for some dramatic and wonderful places to live. In our community, we have deer and wild turkeys and red foxes as neighbors. Our trees fill with tanagers and mountain bluebirds and cedar waxwings. We are visited by pinion jays and an occasional eagle. It is a wonderful place to live.

It is not just private homeowners who have access to wild lands, however. Rapid City has many points for very easy public access to the wild places within the city.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is just a week away and although we know that the numbers of guests will be lower than many other years due to the pandemic, we are bracing for an influx of people who will travel to the hills to share some of the beauty of the place where we live. They will be spreading out, spending less time at concerts and the shops of vendors and more time out riding in the hills with plenty of physical distance. Preparing for the influx of guests comes naturally to those of us who have lived here for a while. Friends and family members who live in other places love to come to the hills and most of the time we are glad to see them. We take them to Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Monument. We show them Crazy Horse and drive the wildlife loop in Custer State Park. We tell them about Bear Country and Reptile Gardens and the 1880’s Train. We let them know about boating on Pactola or Sheridan Lake. We tell them about hiking the Mickelson and Centennial Trails.

We don’t, however, tell them about some of the secret places right in our city. Since we have been observing the discipline of a 2 - 5 mile walk every day, we have discovered more of the urban wild lands interface that Rapid City has to offer. Last night we drove from the edge of the city to near its downtown center, parked our car and walked right into wild land. We had the trail mostly to ourselves and soon we were on a side path that wound through the forest with no other users. We had the hillside and the exquisite views to ourselves for a little while. The place where we were walking is all public access. Our car was parked in a free public parking lot. The pictures that appear with this journal entry were all taken within the city limits within a half mile of a major city street. The shape of the hills and the presence of the trees isolated us from the street noise as we walked. The peace of the evening was just what we needed after a busy day of sorting and packing and feeling like we are in the midst of a job that is bigger than we are.

The interface of wild lands and urban lands is particularly gentle in Rapid City. There are multiple access points to natural beauty and over 100 miles of trails within the city. There are neighborhoods that are tucked into the hills that would surprise others of his close they are to urban services. It is a good place to live and although we welcome guests and love to have visitors, there are a few secrets that we keep to ourselves. Some of the treasures of our home are reserved for peace and solitude.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!