Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Road Trip

The highways between Michigan and Pennsylvania are familiar to me. I lived in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, for ten years before moving to the state of Washington and returned to Pennsylvania for five years before resettling in my home state of Michigan. During those Pennsylvania years, trips to Michigan occurred at least twice a year: May for my mother’s birthday and either October for the fall colors or November for Thanksgiving. Now that my mother is gone and I live in Michigan I make the trip in reverse for my other family’s events.

Recently, I crossed the mountains heading east. I consciously looked around so I wouldn’t miss the multiple shades of green that covered the mountains like a tapestry. This was unlike my experience last year, driving from Michigan to Seattle, when the effort I had to make was to pay attention to the road instead of the rapidly changing scenery. On both trips, green tapestry covered many mountains. On both trips, also, I looked down into valleys of patchwork quilts, with fresh green crops, brown fields ready for planting, darker green of older crops, and occasional blues of irrigation ponds.

Trying to pinpoint the difference, I realized that to me the Appalachian Mountains are beautiful, and sensuous, like a grand dame of the south. Is it because they are so like a genteel, refined lady that they are confident of their grandeur, with no need to flaunt it? The Rockies, on the other hand, are in your face flamboyant with Yellowstone’s geysers, the Black Hills, the Painted Canyons, and numerous other spectacular formations. Even the Cascades threaten to overcome the senses with awe, while the Appalachians allow you to savor their beauty, like sipping a glass of fine sherry.

What do you think?

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