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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Place Where You Live

Air Date: Week of

This week, the Living on Earth, Orion Magazine collaboration travels to Winfred, South Dakota. Cassie Potter and her horse, Hero, wander through the rugged grasslands.


CURWOOD: And now for another trip to the Place Where You Live. Living on Earth's collaboration with Orion Magazine is giving voice to their long running feature that puts the favorite places of people on the map.

[Edward Sharpe "Home" from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (Rough Trade Records 2009)]

POTTER: I'm Cassie Potter. I'm a freshman in college and I'm from Winfred, South Dakota.

Cassie Potter’s horse, Hero. (Photo: Cassie Potter)

CURWOOD: In this rugged part of the midwest, farming communities have a special relationship with animals, with the livestock they keep, the wildlife on the prairie, and the horses they ride. Cassie Potter has her own Hero.

POTTER: Hero, omigosh. I don't even know where to start with him. He was probably my best friend through, like, high school. I first got him in high school when I was rodeoing. He was a barrel horse. In rodeo, barrel racing, it's where there's three barrels set up in an arena and you race around in a pattern and whoever has the best time wins. In South Dakota, we get belt buckles when we win. I rode him every single day in high school, rain or shine, and he just had a huge influence on my life.

Winfred, South Dakota. (Photo: Cassie Potter)

MUSIC BRIDGE: [Bill Frisell "Shenandoah (For Johnny Smith) from Good Dog, happy Man (Nonesuch Records 2009)]

POTTER: On a late warm evening, I ride Hero, my high-spirited quarter horse, through one of my family's livestock grazing pastures. Our relationship is strong. As we journey together through the pasture, it is as if we are one in spirit.

Gentle breezes whisper in my ears and softly touch my skin, raising the tiny hairs on my arms. Blades of Kentucky bluegrass bristle against us as we stride through them. The grasshopper sparrows squeak and wrestle in the air as they snatch field crickets and meadow grasshoppers while crossing the rosy pink sunset.

In the distance, a small pond is alive with American coots swimming through the thick cattails. Mallard ducks quack and fly off in silhouettes. Leopard frogs croak loudly alongside the pond. Hero effortlessly crosses a shallow creek that runs peacefully through the pasture where my family and I have found small arrowheads left behind by the Plains Indians crossing the land years ago.

Black Angus cattle graze in the rolling grasslands of Winfred, South Dakota. (Photo: Cassie Potter)

The loud cackles of ring-neck pheasant echo across the rolling plains and our Black Angus cattle bed down for the night. Hero snorts abruptly as a small cottontail rabbit scurries into the pasture brush. Pesky mosquitoes remind me that it's time to head home. I drop my reins and Hero makes his way back. He knows his way by heart. As the world goes to sleep, I think how grateful I am for the place where I live.


CURWOOD: Cassie Potter lives in Winfred, South Dakota. She no longer rides Hero, who is now lame, but he continues to hold a strong place in her heart.

Tell us about "The Place Where You Live." You can find out about our collaboration with Orion Magazine and how to submit your essay by visiting our website loe.org.



Let us know about “The Place Where You Live.” To post your essay on the Orion magazine website, click here.


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