The Black Hills are for me

By Jeff Smith

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Now that winter has stuck its ugly head out, we can start to see why more people don’t live here maybe.

When I first came to Hill City for the reporting job for the Hill City Prevailer it was snowing. I thought “Here we go. This is the Black Hills I remember.” Back when I was in college I was trudging through snow, walking fast to both escape the cold and get to class on time and I had to make sure I was warm enough to endure all of the day’s weather conditions.

But the Black Hills are not just known for cold weather. It’s not even just known for the cool summer days.

The Black Hills aren’t as developed as people might think. Even though, I am always surprised to find houses or other buildings deep in the woods.

There is silence but it doesn’t always make you feel lonely. It makes you feel energized.

For me, being in the Black Hills definitely has some restorative qualities. Maybe it’s because of the ability to roam. Maybe because it forces you to clear a lot of thoughts in your head.

The Black Hills can definitely give you a shrinking feeling. High cliffs and big hills can really put everything in perspective.

Amidst the silence there is still danger.  There is danger in getting lost, of being too tired or finding large critters.

You can’t let danger keep you from getting out there though.

I can bike on the Mickelson Trail and sit and marvel at the miles of ponderosa pines.

Even so, if I didn’t take time to invest in people and actually get to know the people around me, though, it is just like any other place.

It can be tough to build relationships but people here are welcoming. The people is why you stay and what keeps you going to work every day.

There’s a time and a place that is perfect for everyone in their life at a certain moment. I believe the Black Hills are a perfect place for me right now. The Black Hills are a treasured place. Not just because of the beauty, but also the people.

The Hills suck you in. It can be tough to leave and there’s no guarantee that this place will stay the same forever.

You have to soak in as much as you can while you can.

I had a friend tell me that the Black Hills are an oasis. It’s different from any other surrounding area. There is a spirit of the wild and people here love having the unbridled freedom of the place.

This past year has been exciting for me.

I ziplined through the Black Hills, saw some incredible views, went to a Rush hockey game, played broomball volleyball and handball.

There is a lot to do and see here. There’s a lot of fun events in Hill City. I still remember the tantalizing meat at the Wine, Brew and BBQ and unique, thoughtful pieces of art from the sculpture show.

Plus, there were great works at the flower show and quilt show. There were amazing people who were very open to talking to me about their process and hard work they put into to get great results at both events.

I will remember this past summer as the one that I truly got to experience Custer State Park. Even if I didn’t think some type of event would be interesting I was also surprised how fascinating everything turned out to be.

There is so much I have been able to do here now that I can say that I live here. I might not ever be able to explore the entirety of the Black Hills even if I spend the rest of my life here.

There is a lot of opportunity here and other places in the Black Hills. People can become who they want to be.

With opportunity comes more responsibility. The newspaper keeps me busy but I look forward to getting more involved in the community. There’s a lot of stories I want to write and a lot of photos I want to take this year. I also want to take more time to get out to other places I didn’t get to this summer. I should be able to live a more balanced life this upcoming year as I feel like I have a greater handle on this paper than I did not too long ago.

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