Things have changed for us, here on the island. Where we moved from, the heartland of the States, the land is flat, and that is a generous statement. The first time I landed in the Great Plains, it was disorientingly flat. The vista was so extensive it felt like you could see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon, like you could simply tip off the planet. I grew to see the beauty of the fields of corn stretching as far as the eye could see, but mountains and ocean always felt like home to me. Then when we first moved to Vancouver Island with its immense forests and at least suggestions of mountains, driving along the highways felt like the trees were arching inward over our heads. You could only see as far as the clear cut highway would let you, vistas shut off by trees at every curve of the road. It was stunning, but after the vastness of the plains the forests of the island gave a slightly claustrophobic feel.
But like I said, things have changed. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but the other day as I was driving down the highway I noticed that it felt different; more open. The trees stretched straight up to the skies and made you want to stand up taller, like you too could touch the sky. Where before they felt constricting, now they felt like life, like wanting to fill your lungs to bursting with fresh air. More like home.
Now we just need to be able to start putting names to the new faces of our landscapes. Like the name of the hills/mountains that we live in. Learn more about why/how the nearby lake was drained for the mining industry. Figure out the names of the trees new to us on our walks. We’ve learned Arbutus, the Eucalyptus looking tree in the above picture, but that’s the extent of our botany. It’s fun to think that as Little Man expands his vocabulary at an alarming rate, we too are expanding our homeland vocabulary and learning how to speak from/about “home.”
Land of the big sky. I wondered for a long time what that meant. Isn’t the sky big everywhere? It made more sense when I realized it was given that name by settlers coming out of the Appalachians and other forested points East. Compared to them, the prairies have huge sky. I remember seeing a study a few years ago that some college students did using 3D mapping of the planet’s surface and a pancake to determine that, based on the assumption of a pancake grown to the size of Kansas, Kansas really is flatter than a pancake.
Isn’t that Montana’s state motto? Or at least what they put on their license plates? I’ve not been to Montana, but it’s funny how the sky can feel bigger or smaller depending on where you are. I first noticed this when living in upstate New York and our dear friends moved to Boston. There’s something about the pressure systems in Binghamton that keep the clouds lower to the ground. Driving between New York and Massachusetts, I would always notice how the sky felt taller the closer to Boston that we got, and then lowered and felt more constraining in Binghamton. Although that also might have had something to do with my own personal proximity to my dissertation work… the farther away felt more freeing? 🙂
And I have to admit that while Iowa looked as flat (or flatter) than a pancake, I had to revise that thought every time I went for a bike ride. This was especially true when I would ride with Little Man in his chariot behind my bike. At those times Iowa felt mountainous.
> Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2014 19:31:28 +0000 > To: firstname.lastname@example.org >