sunrise on the road
I have often used the expression, "we're out in the middle of nowhere." Really, there is no such thing. Nowhere is only nowhere relative to what you know. So everyone's nowhere is someone else's somewhere. It's often someone else's everywhere, in fact.
Traveling around our own country makes me realize how provincial we all are. There are these giant transportation hubs, like the ones in flight path maps in the in-flight magazines with explosions of threads shooting out in all directions. All of the in-between places, under the flight paths, are packed with millions of people, in their homes, playing baseball, going to work, digging in the garden. And we forget they are there.
T and I overheard a conversation on the last leg of our flight yesterday.
"Is Madison your destination?"
"I figured. Madison isn't really a connection on the way to anywhere."
Then we drove an hour away to this border town with Illinois. At dinner last night in an Italian place we got a terrific run down on the area from our waitress, who also works in an orthodontist's office and has a daughter applying to college in New York (people are very friendly around here). We asked if she was from around Beloit and she said no, she was from Rockford, which is 28 miles away. To us, that seemed to be from the area, but not to her.
Travel hubs and roadways and air patterns remove us from so much world. It even strikes me when I stand in an island of greenery, a little basin of nature at the edge of a highway. Here are many beautiful trees, birds busily singing and flitting around, tiny flowers beginning to bloom deep in the grass. But it is bordered all the way around by a highway entrance ramp. The only human traffic it ever gets, other than debris thrown from cars, is the occasional mowing during growing season. In its way, a tiny roadside island like this may be less invaded by human footprints than designated wilderness.
But this is a hub of activity and life for birds and trees. And the sun rises here like everywhere else.
When I was in Florida with N, our friend who took us bike-riding talked about the irony of Walt Disney World. He built a world that celebrated "small town USA," and in doing so drew people away from all of the quaint small towns in the region. It would be good to travel more slowly now and then, and to focus on the journey as much as on the destination. There's so much along the way that we whizz past without seeing.
Though much of the developed regions in the US look alike, highway, Wal-mart, mall, gas station...here was one sure sign that we are in Wisconsin: