Def: to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be.
I flew for a living once. I saw the great expanse of this country – from a bird’s eye view. From a distance I had a unique perspective of the land below. Often, especially at night, I sat in the cockpit, as we cruised above the tight city lights between Los Angeles and Boston. Gradually the lights went out as the earth offered up wider spaces.
I thought about those spaces the most. About what the people did for a living…. What they sounded like when they talked about their days and if they yearned for the lights of another place.
When you land somewhere new, the people aren’t what you expect from the encapsulated perch above. That transition is not a smooth one. The van driver, who hoists your over-night bag into the back of a dented van, has lived in this small town all of his life and is content with it.
He has never traveled beyond the county line.
Part of me admires it. The other part wants to scream, “You’re joking!”
I’ve always roamed. When I was three, my mother thought I was playing in our (fenced in) back yard, when she got a phone call from my grandmother (five city blocks away), “You’ll never guess where Lynda is!” she said, blithely. “Yup, that’s right…She’s here - standing right next to me!”
Message received. Don’t fence me in!
So, when I travel to those small towns, I walk around in them.
They are beautiful in so many different ways. The shorthand the locals use when telling you how to get somewhere. Like a secret code only natives can crack. Or the way they watch - as you walk around their town. It’s like being Cher. There’s no way you’re going to blend in and not be noticed!
The most wonderful thing about landing in a country town? The nights.
Once in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the moon hung so low in the sky; I swear that if I had a lariat - I could have lassoed it.
It’s the geography that intrigues me. The look of a land from above - the soul of the land at my feet - the yearning for that undiscovered portion of the earth in my imagination.