Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Common Sensibilities Redux - The beauty of small things
I had read a post on My Life Is An Open Blog earlier this month; the vitriol against the Midwest in general, and Fort Wayne in particular, was rather astounding. I kind of feel bad anyone is that unhappy, no matter where they live.
It reminded me of an interior conversation I've often had with myself, because the Midwest is usually given short shrift in the "purple mountains majesty" category, "amber waves of grain" not being half as sexy. But having just a bit of a poet's eye about the natural world -- being a person of uncommon sensibilities, sometimes, I guess -- I'm often struck by the beauty in the small things around me.
The quality of the sky, for instance, in the clearness of a fall morning, just after sunrise, when the light pink rings the entire horizon and deepens to lavender then fades to new blue -- I feel as if I've driving to work inside a seashell.
Or late on a summer afternoon when it's been hot and humid and the leaves have been blowing upside down all day; and in the west purple mountains suddenly loom, and a far rumble tells me a storm is about to break. The heavy way the air feels. How high the clouds can climb, and the lightning flashes like tiny strobes.
Or that day last October when I opened the garage door one morning, and the light had that strange flat grey quality when it's a certain kind of stratus cloudy ... and it was slowly, delicately, sparsely, first snowing. And it was so quiet.
Or the day I always wait for in June, The Perfect Day of the Year. The grass is so green it hurts your eyes, the trees have just reached their summer fullness, the first flowers are blooming, and it's warm but not humid, sunny but not blinding, and you wish the day would never, ever end.
Even the spareness of a late January day when that December snow has melted, and the leaves have been blown to clear to the mountains, everything is grey and brown and beige, touched with black -- there's an honest openness to the fields and woods and even the yards in my neighborhood--uncovered, blemished, but full of potential.
How Allen County looks when you take off from Baer Field: the fields, the clusters of houses, the trees, oh! there's the three rivers, the patchwork of civilization that just gets smaller and smaller. And in summer, it's just so green.
And in October: Driving home from Huntington on US24, past where 114 tees into it, and beginning at County Line Road, the trees that line the road a conflagration of color, from the palest yellow to fiery red, and still accented by a few deep greens, and knowing that this beauty is so transient, the next cold front will destroy my majestic corridor.
If you need to feel overpowered by your environment, don't come to the Midwest, for you will have no mountains to look up to. A tornado may blow you away, however. If you need variety to amuse and entertain you, rapids to raft, cliffs to rappel, hills to climb, buy a ticket; for these aberrations, though present, must be sought. If you have no energy to look for the beauty of the small things, don't come to the Midwest, for the beauty will allude you.
But if you marvel at the silhouette of a barren oak tree's branches against an ice-blue February sky, if the sight of a winter wheat field growing green when you least expect it brings a smile, if the memory of the stillness of a lake country morning as you sit on the dock with a cup of coffee and a deep breath gets you through the winter ... then you too have learned to appreciate the beauty of small thing.

1 comment:

  1. This was beautiful. When I first arrived here I wrote a post where I refered to this part of the world as the Land of Rainbows. I remember marveling at the round barns and how surreal the lots of farm equipment appeared. It took me awhile to realize that the lack of fenses made everything look....unfensed! Thanks for the poetry to start off my morning.