Although I was in South Dakota for just one year, I recognise each and every line of this satire on the Plains state by comedian Jeff Foxworthy - sent to me by my wonderful friend Beth, a Dakotan. He writes:
|If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in South Dakota. |
If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Milbank is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in South Dakota.
If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in South Dakota.
If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in South Dakota.
If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in South Dakota.
If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in South Dakota.
If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in South Dakota.
If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in South Dakota.
If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in South Dakota.
You know you are a true South Dakotan when:
Photos: I took the first photo in the South Dakota Badlands, on the cusp of the Black Hills. The second is of a road on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where I did much of my research on Lakota Sioux environmentalism.
I fell in love with western South Dakota for many reasons. One of them is the landscape that varies so dramatically within just a few miles: the pine-scented forests and granite mountains of the Black Hills; the solemn austerity of the Badlands, which, with the sun, pass through every colour from rose pink through blazing orange; and the undulating prairies that truly are oceanic.
I must admit, I was a little wary of going to the Dakotas. When I was in line at the American Embassy in London getting my visa several Americans in the queue were completely baffled as to why I would go to that "godforsaken" state, making me anxious about going to the "back of beyond". And yet once there, besides the generic "cowboys and Indians" population (many tribal elders used to joke that in meeting me they had finally met a "real Indian" at last) I found a sizeable artistic community of painters, poets and healers. Western South Dakota was also filled with city migrants from Chicago, New York City, Denver and San Francisco.
By the way, I met my first real cowboys in South Dakota - another reason I fell in love with the place. Beth, I change my mind - let's go back to South Dakota this year!