Sunday Sunshine 11.16.08

Flat

There is something frank and joyous and young in the open face of the country.  It gives itself ungrudgingly to the moods of the season, holding nothing back.  Like the plains of Lombardy, it seems to rise a little to meet the sun.  The air and the earth are curiously mated and intermingled, as if the one were the breath of the other.  You feel in the atmosphere the same tonic, puissant quality that is in the tilth, the same strength and resoluteness.   – Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

I see great beauty in the area in which I grew up.  It is flat for miles and miles, a leveled valley surrounded by end morraine.  The sunsets are unrivaled.  The air is clear.  The seasons are marked by farming.  In autumn, we expected the roads to be covered with giant clods of dirt.  We kept careful watch for beet trucks pulling out of fields at all hours of the night.  Farm kids would miss several weeks of school due to harvest.  In winter, when the wind wasn’t howling (which was almost always…it gets a 300-mile running start across North Dakota, you know), it often felt as if you were stepping out into a blank sheet of paper, the impossibly white ground fading right into the impossibly white sky, with no trees or mountains in between to give hint of a horizon.

Husband had no appreciation whatsoever for this kind of beauty.  He grew up around hills, swamps and trees, and to him, that is what is beautiful.  Mountains and lakes are great, too.  But flat plains?  No way.

Me, I still get homesick when we drive up there.  The open fields, the shelter belts, the modest homes cause my breath to catch in my throat.

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8 thoughts on “Sunday Sunshine 11.16.08

  1. I’ve never seen scenery like that! I might end up being like your husband, feeling vaguelly uneasy in a landscape without trees and hills – but it does have a beauty all of its own.

  2. I think we all have connections to where we grew up. I always feel a pull to farms, watching the corn grow and worrying about the farmers when it rains during harvest time. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Since I lived in the city of Moorhead and I didn’t own a car, I didn’t really get to appreciate the beauty of the prairie. I only cursed the bitter wind that blew across it 365 days a year.

    But in the last few years I discovered a photographer on Flickr who captures exactly what you describe. And through her eyes it is beautiful. Check her out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizbarrett/. You may have to go back a few pages to see a WOW image, but it’s definitely worth browsing around.

    Happy Sunday!

  4. I totally understand this.

    I remember a family trip one year to Kansas, where my Dad grew up. I was sitting in the front of the van with my Dad and I couldn’t help but say, “Man, it’s ugly here. It’s so flat and … nothing.” My Dad just smiled and said, “It’s beautiful to me. It’s what I remember as home.”

    I tried to keep that in mind the year we lived in Phoenix, which pretty much looked and felt like Hell On Earth to me. But to the youth group kids I worked with, they thought the desert was beautiful. Because, to them, it was home.

  5. I feel exactly the same way every time I head back up North. I miss the flatness… there’s so much scenery in the sky that you lose when you get out of the valley.

  6. I grew up in the northwoods, but I get those same feelings looking out across the plain. Lone barns and trees on the horizon and endless miles of sunflowers bring peace to my soul. The openness feels like freedom.

    The wind really doesn’t blow every day in ND. There are calm days, too!

    Katie

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