Wide Open Words – April 15, 2016

IMG_6774Open Space is Good for the Soul………..

I remember the day as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was sitting on a grassy hill overlooking Big Sage Creek in northern Montana.

It was late spring, the white, puffy clouds were dancing across the sky and the gentle breeze was teasing the prairie grass.

To the west about 15 miles the East Range of the Sweet Grass Hills interrupted the otherwise flat horizon that stretched for miles all around me.

Below cattle were grazing along the creek and a mile west I could see a farm truck raising a cloud of dust on the dirt road that led to Inverness, 20 miles to the south.

But it was silent except for the occasional lowing of a cow looking for her calf.

I was about 13 years old and roaming our family farm was our main form of entertainment. Especially in the spring when the weather was turning warm and the creeks and gullies were full of snow melt.

That’s when I first began to appreciate the calmness open spaces can provide. It was an escape from the hustle and bustle of the farmyard with tractors and trucks buzzing about and a raft of brothers and sisters clamoring.

Open space is good for the soul. It can quiet you, give you a sense of calm, and make you appreciate your place in this world. Open space is especially important in a semi-urban county like Douglas County.

The whirl of traffic, the noise rolling off our highways, the congestion of our streets, the hectic daily routines, can leaveIMG_6780 us frazzled.

Open space is a tonic for our nervous souls. A few minutes of quiet in an open space park with no traffic and few, if any people, can bring us back to ground. Let us settle. Let us appreciate this beautiful world in which we live.

That’s why I have worked for years to promote the conservation of open space. It takes me back to the grassy hill overlooking Big Sage Creek in Montana, a time when finding peace meant walking out the back door of our farmhouse.

Rich 2


Richard Bang was born in Northern Montana and raised on a dry-land farm in a family of seven children. He attended a one-room school house through eighth grade and graduated from Inverness High School. He received a BA in journalism from the University of Montana and spent about 30 years working for newspapers of all sizes. He moved to Colorado in 1981 and worked on the Douglas County News-Press in Castle Rock between 1986 and 2000. He retired in 2010 and now spends his time working for non-profits, writing novels, traveling and riding his bicycle.



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