Spring New Bee Hiving Moon
At around 10 this morning I called home to report a serious attack of the stupids. Kate immediately said, “You left your pillow behind.” Smacking the forehead. Two attacks of the stupids.
Yes, I had left my pillow behind, after all these stops. But that wasn’t the reason I was calling. I had set the garmin aside, reasoning that this is a trip I’ve made many, many times. I knew the way.
So I set off toward the airport on Highway 70. As I often do when leaving Denver, I watched the mountains recede in the rear view mirror, switched on the cruise control, stuck a new mystery novel in the cd slot and sat back for a mornings drive, headed home.
Well, sort of. I kept waiting for the road to turn north, for the town where I often stop for lunch coming into Denver, it’s just in Colorado, not long at all after the turn south from Nebraska.
There was the sign ahead, leaving Colorado. Ah. Then. Oops. Because there was the sign, welcome to Kansas. Sigh. It’s Highway 76 that leads out of Denver toward Highway 80 in Nebraska. 70 goes through Kansas. Oh.
I pulled out the atlas, thanks again Tom, and scouted a route north and east first through Kansas then a route east in Nebraska as I headed toward a southern dip in Highway 80. Finally, at Lexington, Nebraska I rejoined the federal highway system.
Part of what occupied my time as I left Colorado, before I turned on the book, was thinking about the difference between the southern and western states through which I’d passed and the level plains on which I would now drive well into Minnesota. In this thought process I was not navigating but pondering.
The arid lands beginning in Oklahoma, continuing in west Texas and southern New Mexico and into Arizona are areas which offer little in the way of useful habitation for humans. They’re dry, with vegetation not of much use for food, and water sources distant. When you get into the mountains of northern Arizona and New Mexico, there is more vegetation, but the soils are poor and the land often sloping and rocky.
These are areas with great natural beauty, but also severe challenges for contemporary living. The plains, in contrast, have a beauty that is horizon and sky, fertile fields, grain elevators and small towns with white Protestant churches and brick Catholic ones. In the plains there is a dominant occupation, farming, and, in the not so distant, a larger number of farmers. Though the number of farmers has declined, farming still dominates the plains economy.
In the arid south and west, whether desert or mountain, there is no dominant occupation, no similar fixed anchors to an economy headed by oil and tourism and the federal government.
This was running through my head as I drove on Highway 70 headed toward Kansas instead of Nebraska. Then I thought of our home in Andover, in Anoka county. In the northern part of Anoka County where we live the forests and lakes, the high water table land is the southern reach of the great peat bogs that stretch right up to the beginnings of the boreal forest.
So I realized that I do not live in either the economically and resource poor south and south west, but neither do I live in the agriculturally dominant plains. Instead I live where a different kind of economically and resource poor region begins. If you subtract logging and mining from the lands north of us, there is only land not much good for agriculture, but rich, like the northern portions of Arizona and New Mexico in natural beauty.
Yes, I admit it. That thinking distracted from proper navigation.
Daughter-in-law Jen got my pillow. So all the consequences of this dreamy episode are now erased. Do you imagine I can find Minnesota?