Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Great Plains and Big Sky

The world is a big place...but on some levels it doesn't seem so large any more. Communication has made contact with other cities, states, and countries unremarkable. Yet 100 years ago, the system we take for granted today was unthinkable and unheard of. In 1910 roads were poor, autos were for the wealthy and well-to-do, and telegrams were a normal means of fast communication. Many rural stations had Western Union offices for that very reason. 100 years ago, the world was a very big place indeed.

Interestingly, the world itself hasn't changed all that much. The wind blows across the plains of the West, the tall grasses whisper and bend beneath its howling, the clouds still roll quickly across the big skies. While much of the country has connected itself to everything, the land it inhabits still shows many of the constants it always has. We've done our best to carve it up and parcel it out but that original beauty of what was is still there somewhere. Somewhere beneath the glitz and glamor, somewhere out there.

Great plains and big skies give perspective to these things. They give perspective on where we actually stand and our tenuous grip on "control." They remind us of how small we are, and that what was here before is much bigger than we ever consider. Away from cozy confines of office buildings or comfortable reclining seats, these spaces represent something very very different. This is apparent in places like Mozart, Saskatchewan shown above. The grain elevator stands as the tallest thing for miles on the great expanse of plains. The wind rushes an oncoming front across the sky above. The roads are bad, the people are few and far between, and loneliness is a frequent companion. There is no glitz or glamor here, just wide open beauty that imposes itself on you, just as it always has.


3 comments:

Oil-Electric said...

This scene brings back memories of my transcontinental travels, by air and road. In both instances, it is aggravating to feel like no progress is gained; the horizon still distant.

The last time my late wife and I drove across Kansas east to west, she was driving while I napped. At last I woke up, and still the Rockies were in the distance. I asked her “how fast are we going?|” She responded, “80.” I said “step on it!”

Can you imagine the view from the rolling deck of a freight engine creeping across this expanse?

Anonymous said...

You said it, it is an expanse in every sense of the word.

-Leland

SDP45 said...

I see this as better to see where you are and what is coming at you, versus being in a bunch of hills (or trees).

Dan