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On broad horizons and big sky

31 July 2011

Land and Sky (copyright © m.a.h. hinton)

Here in the North Country, the climatological pendulum we live under has reached the longest and hottest end of its summer arc. Our minds are on things of summer: cold beer, grilling out, parades, flowers, and trees. Lots and lots of trees.

To my Western-eyes, trees (with the exception of cottonwoods) are more often a bane than a blessing. Growing thick and quick here in the wet-center of the continent, they obscure the horizon… hiding any real view of land and sky. It is this loss of a visible horizon that is the most difficult thing for me living here in the North Country… having my vistas limited only to the spaces I can catch between trees and buildings.

So each summer by this time I find myself restless and desperate for wide-open spaces… for sky and land without limit. The urge for limitless land and vistas builds and builds until I find myself one day unable to take it any longer … and I say to Sue, “I have to get out of these trees… I have to go out where there are no trees and people to block my view.”

When that happens, Sue (ever patient… with my small madnesses) gets in the car with me and we head out… looking for prairie, for space without people and crops, without buildings and trees to limit my vision. We head west.

It is the last day of a long, hot July. Following the Mississippi Valley south into Iowa, Sue and I are spending a weekend at her alma mater and the school that Dylan will be attending in a few short weeks. It is a land of limestone hills, trout streams,… and trees. It is beautiful by any standards… but my mind remains on mountains and prairie… on unspoiled, un-limited horizons. I am thinking of the West. I am thinking of sky.

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