Saturday, May 1, 2010

Looking Down at Clouds

looking down at clouds 006

The world is encompassed in oval glass. The engine roars to keep you aloft; it should be deafening, but the enormity of where you are, how fast you’re going, how you stay here, is nothing more than a background hum.

Clouds scoot along a level scrim of sky, imperceptibly contracting, expanding, disappearing. You feel you could reach out and pop one into your mouth. Beneath that, the world stretches and rolls out a map of itself. These are the Great Plains. Vast marbled sweeps of floodplain and cleared fields are chocolate brown and fudgy black, luscious and rich enough to eat. Scattered forests look bushy; they curl darkly in on themselves. Rivers slide and muscle through the land. They are never blue.

Occasional cities clot and sprawl. Gleaming downtowns are bar graph topography at the center of large grid-plains of streets. Ringing this, you see lobed arrays of roads, trees and houses arranged in orderly arabesques, everything in agreement. Cars are sparkles of light, Morse code flashes against the dark flow of road. But these cities are not what cover the land. Most of what you see is farm. Tangram fields are puzzled together: straight edged and serious. Silos rise and flash beside arrangements of angular buildings: bright as a polished blade, tidy as a place setting.

Where is the wilderness? You’re surprised at how much land is strapped and planed and boxed up, neatly. Knife-edged. The sky remains the horizon.

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I always enjoyed about flying into Minneapolis was you could see trees. But we too have a large amount of farm land.

    It's amazing how little wilderness there is. At least the pheasants were loudly squabbling last night. It reminds me of how precious a place I live.