Monday, August 13, 2007

Landscapes matter

The space teaches and landscapes matter. As a midwestern child at heart, I find the landscape of midwestern farmland to be extremely comforting. While driving from Nashville to Columbia, MO this past weekend, I drove through some of that comforting farmland. There were no mountains to break one's view...not even small hills. Nothing but corn and soybeans and wheat for as far as the eye could see. Various shades of green, brown, tan, and yellow marking crops in various stages of growth and development and harvest. Cingular/ATT wireless commercials abounding as trees, adjacent crops, telephone poles, and even houses lined up to signify more bars in more places. In midwestern farmland, the tall stuff is so conspicuous. The things that used to dominate the higher echalons of the midwestern pastoral landscape were church steeples, water towers, and silos...mostly silos...fewer water towers...scattered steeples. All three representing sustenance of one sort or another. The things that protruded from the ground and dwarfed the ever growing stalks of corn and wheat represented nourishment of both the body and the soul. There's something to be said about the waters of baptism and the wheat that is used to make bread for holy communion and the church where these holy sacraments live and dwell and challenge and sustain...yeah there's something to be said, but I'm not sure what it is. Silos, water towers, and steeples, oh my. Those used to dominate the landscape and draw the eye, and they still do, but now they share the skies with cell towers. Actually, the cell towers dwarf the silos and towers and steeples just as they used to dwarf the corn and the wheat. Cell towers always in view. I suppose they represent an element of sustenance...the sustenance of communication with loved ones. But somehow they jar the eyes as they stand there in the midst of all the other landmarks of the midwestern landscape. Question: What do the protruding, tall things say about a culture?

I really love the midwestern landscape. I love seeing the patchwork quilt of crops. I love seeing the barns and silos of varying size, shape, and color. I love seeing that old church off in the distance that probably stood long before cars were whizzing by on an interstate highway. I love the occasional cattle that stand there chewing their cud and whipping their tails to chase away flies and gnats. I love being able to see to visual infinity...being able to see rain coming from miles away...being able to see the shadows of large masses of clouds as they meander by overhead...being able to see so far. I really do love the midwestern landscape.


Craig said...

Really an outstanding bit of writing here Alan. Almost, made me want to visit the mid-west, almost.

I think I had traditionally underrated fields. I'm more of a trees and mountains guy. But in Princeton there is this battlefield that just sort of opens up all of a sudden between the trees - it is really suprisingly striking. It is just a field, but set next to the trees upon trees of princeton it becomes something very special, i guess the openess and vastness it suggests.

by the way: I sprained my ankle muy bueno on tuesday. Now I'm on the DL. But I'm working out, so next time we meet I'll be able to lob you 20-30 feet. I dont want to lob you, but I'm just saying, I could.