Friday, May 29, 2009

In Praise of Flatness

Sunflowers, somewhere in South Dakota.

I grew up in the West and spent a lot of time in California and Utah, where mountains are what it's all about.  You climb them, look at them, and generally, everyone assumes that beauty is all
 about how big or tall something is.

As much as I enjoy the mountains, I have to admit a bias for smaller vistas.  I'm not sure how to explain it biologically or psychologically, but I do think that some people have a predilection for certain landscapes.  Stick a !Kung on a beautiful mountain top and he's likely to scream and hug the ground.

I believe my genetics are predisposed to like flat, or at least gently rolling.  Grandeur is in the mind if not the eye of the beholder.  My grandeur is smaller and more intimate.

I've spent a decent amount of time driving around south-central and south-western Wisconsin these past few weeks.  To be honest, it has been hard to take the highways, and despite the extra time, I've stayed on County Roads most of the time.  They're usually lettered and though that's somewhat boring, it's eminently practical.  Practicality is a midwestern virtue, ranked right up there with being steady, the nicest thing you can say about a man or a woman.

What I have discovered is that somewhere in my brain there is a nerve cluster, a ganglion if you will, that is activated when I spend time in the Driftless Area, the part of Wisconsin that was not glaciated.  It speaks to me, and the fact that there are more cows than people in this part of the state probably doesn't hurt either.

I guess my point is that everywhere has beauty.  Deserts or rain forests, coulees or canyons, it's all good.  It just takes opening your eyes a bit, and more importantly, opening your mind a little bit too.

Respectfully submitted,

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