Some Country. Some Day. Happy Birthday!

bale-hay

Excerpts from Bob Greene’s: If You Think the U.S. Is Divided and Ugly, Hit the RoadThe beauty of our country as seen from a car window on the 12½-hour drive from New York to Chicago.

…The night before…a former long-haul truck driver who’d told me he hankered to see the Great Lakes again—and asked what were the chances he’d be willing to drive straight from Manhattan to Illinois. He said sure; we worked out a price.

By 8 a.m. we were on the road. You know how divided this country is reputed to be? How ugly things allegedly are? Here’s a suggestion: Cross the United States by road this summer. Take a good look out your window. The country itself is pretty swell—beautiful and vibrant and full of small surprises. We, who live here, may do everything we can to screw things up, but our mutual home brims with moments of random loveliness.

On a busy street corner in Newark, N.J., a mother protectively clutched her daughter’s hand as they waited to cross. In eastern Pennsylvania, the soaring, craggy rock formations by the highway sent a silent message: We were here before you were born and we’ll be here after you are gone. Driving over the Delaware River, with the splendor of the famed Delaware Water Gap below, we caught the first magnificent sight of the Pocono Mountains—and those trees, all those breathtaking miles of ancient trees. Who could ever count them? An impossible task.

In large cities life can seem crowded and claustrophobic. In rural Pennsylvania the overwhelming sensation was of how much open space America still has to offer: the room, if we choose, to spread out, to free ourselves from barking over each other’s shoulders. What must life here have been like before the telephone, before television, before the internet, when people didn’t have thousands of angry and disembodied voices—the voices of strangers—barraging them every day, stirring them up? When the voices they heard belonged, in the main, to their neighbors?…

We would hit 20 or 30 minutes of bright sunshine and then another storm. On farmland east of Bellefonte a dozen cows stood in formation in the downpour…

Six hours and 10 minutes into our journey we were in Ohio. So many stretches of concrete over bodies of water, both wide and tiny; this country, when it wants to, has always known how to bridge things…

Then we were in Indiana, with golden bales of hay positioned so artfully in emerald fields you’d have thought a painter with an infinite canvas had placed them for maximum effect. Near Elkhart, matching the mood, were roadside directions to Linton’s Enchanted Gardens. In Gary, as the clouds lifted, the Steel Yard, home ballpark of the minor-league RailCats, lured passersby to a long summer of baseball games.

A man in a lovingly restored black-and-white Studebaker passed us on the right and we entered Illinois. At 7:24 p.m. Central Time, 12 hours and 24 minutes after leaving New York, we pulled up to my destination. I told the fellow behind the wheel the quickest way to his hoped-for Great Lake, Lake Michigan, and we said goodbye.

Some country. Some day.


Photo: James Docherty with A Quiet Place,

Comments

  1. All this beauty – I think that is a unanimous perspective. What we do with it, how we treat it and each other – perhaps less clear. Happy 4th, America!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Happy 4th of July David stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our country is so beautiful, so rich in character, panorama and perspective….It’s easy to lose sight of that with all the angry clamor that dominates our news cycles these days. Seems like all we focus on anymore are our differences..who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s the best, who’s the worst. Awash in vitriol, it makes it hard to remember that we are the UNITED States of America. I desperately hope we can return to center…in every way. Happy 4th!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I fell in love with road trips in this county. Happy 4th. Great post for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some post, David. Mamy thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. …And crown thy good with brotherhood. From sea to shining sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sing it…
    A—men.
    A—-men.
    Louder now…
    A—MEN.
    AMEN.
    AMEN.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Classical pianist and Tango Party-Girl….
    Surprise! Surprise……
    XOR

    Liked by 2 people

  9. yes, all parts of the same country, yet like different worlds in many ways )

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I frankly think North America as a whole is a beautiful place! It’s all around us to see, if we choose. I always choose…
    Happy 4th, My Displaced Canadian Friend! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, if taken day by day and person to person, things look pretty darned good. Side note is that we tend to attract those we tend to attract. So there’s that. The overview is less exciting, and I think it’s important to keep the camera focused on the macro, but pull the lens back from time to time. If we don’t, we stand to lose liberties we take for granted. (end of lecture 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christie says:

    Dave, I love your share…The excerpt from Bob Greene’s wonderful writing brought to my mind other journalists, John Steinbeck’s ‘Travels with Charley’, Steve Hartman of ‘Everybody Has A Story’, Charles Kuralt’s, ‘On The Road’, the book series a day in the Life of America (24 richly covered hours) and Garrison Keillor’s slice of Americana (even though it is a novel) ,,,All celebrating everyday life and connections…/// I love the image/// I wonder what the great noted American photographer Stephen Shore would shot in a constrained time period of 12 to 24 hours? He documents the common, everyday.images of our culture, over five decades. Much of his work’s subjects are from Road Trips, landscapes, he also shots in cities & interiors as well.His book, “Uncommon Places” 1982 is one of the most influential photo books of all time. He has a retrospective show at MOMA opening in November 2017 (6 month run), hope you take the time to go to the exhibit (he has an Instagram…America is Diverse in People and Places, Perspective and Breathtaking Beauty. We all take with us such diverse touch points from your offerings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Years ago a girlfriend and I drove from Niagara Falls to Texas. Like the article says, driving through Pennsylvania was gorgeous. Living down here in the south, we tend to think of the northeast as just one big city. But its not that way at all, is it? The big city is the exception, even in New York, is it not? Head north from the city, and see the Hudson. Head west and behold, the Finger Lakes!
    So yes, driving through Pennsylvania farmlands, over rivers and past vineyards on the eastern slopes of mountainsides that enjoy the morning sun was very nice. But first…
    But first we had to get out of Buffalo.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dave, thanks for this post. America has so much beauty that we sometime forget. That said a trip across the country by car may have different perspectives for different people. I remember as a youth, traveling across Indiana and my Dad would not stop. Why, it was a hotbed of the KKK and he feared for his family’s safety. I hope those with visible differences such as a hijab can see the beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. What a scarring memory. Hatred amidst so much beauty. So glad you can see the beauty through the darkness. Thanks for sharing. I won’t soon forget your comment.

      Like

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