The Land is Our Vantage Point

                            62  bar falls 29.66  0mph N dew-point 55  Beltane, night

                                                 First Quarter of the Flower Moon

Started Gettysburg tonight to get me in the mood for the southern trip.  Even though I’ve canceled my Gettysburg trip for this time, I can’t head into the south without thinking of the Civil War and trying to visit a few battlefields or other historic sites along the way.  Even as I write the word historic, I think back to something I wrote not long ago about how young our country is.

Think of Stonehenge, a temple from the paleolithic, over 5,000 years ago.  There are probably citizens of the United Kingdom whose ancestors were there, helped position the stones.  Imagine Turkey and Iraq, nations where civilization has had a foot-hold for thousands of years.  Egypt.  China and its 6,000 years of history, much of it recorded. 

Here, where most of us are boat people, only a few of the First Nations survive.  They can trace their ancestry on this land back several thousand years, but none of us with roots in Europe or Africa or Asia (at least the most recent immigrations) can see deeper into the past than Plymouth Rock or Roanoke.  Our history here spans no more than 400 years and as a country we are only 240 some years old.

The Hudson River School painters, in particular Thomas Cole, believed that the American equivalent of ruins were the natural wonders. The frontier in his day.  The mountains.  The Great Lakes.  The mighty rivers.  The forests that stretched over millions of square miles.  Now we can add the Grand Canyon, the buttes and mesas of Utah, the homes of the Anasazi.  Yellowstone.  Yosemite.  The Boundary Waters. 

It is still true. Still true that the land itself is our vantage point to consider history and pre-history.  Still true that the sight of the Rocky Mountains or Lake Superior or the Mississippi or the Smoky Mountains or the Everglades can move us to tears and anchor us here, anchor us here as firmly as the Bastille, the Tower of London, the temples of Angkor or the Great Wall of China.

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