Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that is particularly true when it comes to spending time outdoors in North Dakota. There's nothing new about that statement. Of course, it is difficult to find much enchantment when the temperature dips well below zero and the weather forecast warns about the grave danger of extreme wind chills.
Nevertheless, I was reminded about our state's unique place in the world during a darkhouse spearfishing event held recently. Several of the participants were from out of state, stationed temporarily at the Minot Air Force Base. It was a refreshing reminder to hear them talk about North Dakota. They used terms like appreciate and enjoy and unique and wonderful.
Those of us who live in North Dakota think those thoughts too, but maybe we take too much for granted and become somewhat forgetful about our surroundings. Reminders - a little prodding, even - are a good thing to help us step back and evaluate what it is we really enjoy about North Dakota. There's not all that many places in the U.S. where you can walk on water. You can in North Dakota!
Listening to the comments of newcomers to darkhouse spearfishing reminded me of a story I've told on these pages previously, so bear with me. Several years ago I was waiting for a departure at an airport in Anchorage, Alaska. To pass the time I started up a conversation with two other men who appeared to be waiting for a plane too. They were from Alaska, the grandest frontier I've ever seen.
When I told them I was from North Dakota, they became very interested in what I had to say. After listening for a minute, they explained to me that they liked to spend their vacation time in North Dakota. They detailed several moments from waterfowl hunts in open fields. As I listened to their enthusiastic tales of their visits to our prairies and what they thoroughly enjoyed, I reminded myself that we sometimes take for granted what North Dakota has to offer. I've never forgotten that lesson.
Today our landscape is undergoing tremendous change. The impact of activity in the oil fields has many sportsmen sadly lamenting what is happening. Acres of Conservation Reserve Acres are disappearing too. In many areas, for several reasons, the amount of land open to quality hunting continues to diminish. Hunters are feeling opportunities slipping away.
At times today it is difficult to see any possible changes for the better, but all is not lost either. We still have outdoor opportunities that others elsewhere would love to enjoy. Sometimes "the good old days" is the next day you spend outdoors doing what you enjoy.