by Azilee Ball
Redbird, Wyoming. The definition of middle of nowhere, yet a place so dear. There are no other people or buildings for 25 miles, and the closest town is the least populated in the US. The solitude is tranquil, acres of land with only a barn, small house, and an abandoned cabin which was once a rest stop for a cowboy. This cowboy’s work was strenuous, and he dedicated his life to nurturing the cattle and protecting the land around him. Bunnies, deer, antelope, and horses roam free. Seeing how free these animals make me realize how free I am in this glorious place. Each way you look there is a whole new landscape. A mountain range that makes you realize just how small you are. A forest, an animal's home that is comforting. A prairie scattered with lone trees. An artesian goes to work every night to paint the sky with all the warm colors on the spectrum. There is coldness all around besides on my face where that last pure ray of sunlight hits it is warm. Then the sky is replaced with starlight, the Milky Way melts into your eyes as if it where the candy bar.
Sedona, Arizona. A place of true wonder. The geology is mesmerizing, and there is meaning behind all this geology, much more than your eye can see. The energy vortexes and ley lines are a wonder to the energetic world. The energy courses through the veins of everyone that has the privilege to live in this place, reflected in the culture of the city. These people chose this place to live in because they understood the value of the land and all it has to offer. The geography is still remarkable and any way you turn, there is orange and red. The mountains look like the first two layers of the rainbow. Then, when the day turns into night or night turns into the day, the mountains are reflected in the sky. They blur together like milk and coffee. I was sitting in awe, watching them blend together. I told my brain to take a picture of this moment because no camera could capture this all around beauty. The cup of coffee I held warmed my hands to fight to cold. The feeling was pure happiness; I wanted to see this sky forever.
Steamboat, Colorado. This place is so close to home, but it looks like a new planet. In front of me, the sky is pastel pink, blue, and purple. The enormous ridged mountains are no longer brown and green: they are dark gray skater with bright snow. The lake below the mountains is a mirror perfectly reflecting the grand mountains above. Behind me, the sky is a bright orange and green, and the dark blue fades into the pastel blue in the front. The hills that block the sun are pure black like a pulp. There is a raging fire which brings warmth to the faces of my loved ones. My brother is tending to the fire frequently, as though if it went out then so would his love for this place. My dog is snuggled up next to me and I hear the music that brings me right back to this magical moment.
Am I a Westerner? The sun is either setting or rising. That is what these stories have in common, and though I have seen the sun set and rise all over the world these are the ones that have stuck in my mind. The West has so much beauty and I have been amongst that beauty my whole life. I dislike the heat, so the initially West did not seem so appealing. But Redbird, Wyoming; Sedona Arizona; and Steamboat, Colorado—these are some of the places that have changed my perspective. The Pacific Northwest, like the true West, has a beauty that I feel drawn to. The lush forest, the deer and their behavior, the water, the flowers, the weather, the culture, everything draws me in. In truth, I don’t know if I am a Westerner. A true westerner seems so passionate, a cowboy tending to his cattle with so much love, and people who would do anything to live in the energetically rich Sedona. A boy at his happiest among the geology of the west. I can't imagine ever leaving the West, yet I can’t imagine staying here my whole life either.