The train crawls into the heart of North Dakota. Rickety rail and a constant procession of freight trains carrying oil and coal means frequent stops and slow speeds.
Outside the observation car window stretches an endless sea of virgin prairie grass and herds of buffalo so thick that they seem to form one giant amoebic mass that threatens to engulf the horizon as if to digest the few small clouds that linger there. The feeling is one of breath and life and endless space.
And then my eyes blink through into the modern era, the mechanical now, and the prairie becomes coal and oil in the form of GMO corn and soybeans arrayed in GPS guided rows upon the sterile ground, and the black amoebic mass of buffalo is foreshortened into an endless passing parade of tanker cars, their sides dripping with the dark toxic lifeblood of civilization.