Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Landscape And The Mind's Eye

Barbara: I read recently somewhere (can’t remember where––thanks again, aging brain) that Love of Landscape is a distinctly Canadian characteristic. It makes sense. We Canadians are surrounded by so much of it. Sprawling landscape. Hundreds of thousands of square miles that are wild and empty, devoid of human touch. We can thank our historical habit of converging our cities and towns around hospitable rivers and lakes in the warmest corners of the country. As a result, we have vast unspoiled spaces cozying up to cosmopolitan beehives.

Obviously, I know that Canadians aren’t the only ones who appreciate landscape, but it had never occurred to me before that some people might actually take landscape for granted. I can’t imagine it. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t breathe a kind of Zen sigh of peacefulness when I was “on the road”. One of my absolute favourite aspects of summer is the Road Trip. Honestly, this country just begs for a good long road trip to someplace you’ve never been. Or to someplace you’ve been many times, but never on that route. Or same destination, same route, but different adjectives.

Being a lover of the Road Trip means giving over to the moment. You have no choice but to look around you at the changing scenery, to appreciate the way the light plays on the native plants, and to see again how the foliage changes from one area to another.

It is a gentle sort of miracle for me to be suddenly outside myself and my worries, concerns, and battling ideas, and find myself thinking—truly, I swear—about NOTHING. For several hours, I just watch, mesmerized at the wonder of our countryside. Of any countryside. For someone who is so awfully and compulsively wrapped up in the mundane and the stressful, the road trip with its shifting landscape is such a relief. Both a wonder and a wonderfully soothing … break.

We’ve had a few road trips this summer—as we do every summer—to my sister’s cottage, to my Dad’s house in the country, visits to friends. Getting there is absolutely, completely half the, if not fun, certainly the joy. Unadulterated, spa-like, mesmerizing, breathtaking, soul-replenishing JOY.

Deb: Oh, Barb, how true does this ring! I had a few overnights this summer in Ontario, which boasts some of the most beautiful land and lake I have ever seen. Add to that my fifth season shooting in Regina. As we trucked to Indian Head every day, it hit me: I was not bored like I thought I would be, having been there five years in a row. In fact, the opposite was true. Yes, it was the same flat land as it was every single day, but it was bliss. The “big sky”––a gross understatement if I ever heard one––was looming over us! I could not take my eyes off it. Every bit of it. We shot at the edge of a field of canola, all yellow waves of control. I was staring at it. We all were. It was hypnotizing us and it was all we could talk about, focus on. And as we watched it, the earth seemed to curve. I swear. It looked like you could see the rounding of the planet. Saskatchewan. Land of the Living Sky. Oh, yes!


  1. I know what you mean, I have a friend that lives in Vancouver and when I go there to see her we always go sight seeing . She loves the Canadian scenery as much as I do. I think people should think more of the scenery around them. We should be lucky that we have such beautiful nature and scenery around us.

  2. I hear you , girls. Even living in L.A., we do have beauty all around us...the pacific ocean, Malibu, the forests and canyons. Having just returned from Yosemite, I know that I can't survive without nature. It restores my soul.

  3. Oh Barbara: you and Deb should come visit. I love the Season changes and Autumn is a brilliant palette of colors reflecting on Rickard's Lake.
    The Winter snow brings a Wonderland along the Lake Road. The Summer is the sound of bull frogs, crickets, owls. The Spring turns the forest green with a hint of remaining Dogwood trees planted in the 40's and the ducks and Swan return to the lake.
    The sky is wide open on a blue sunny day and in the night the stars are jumbo in size. I love to drive down the old country road and see the stone walls and when you look up you see the cows against the horizon like they were dropped from the sky.
    I loved this post. I love and appreciate the nature around me.
    Although I still dream of my childhood and the nature of the waves and sea life.

  4. Vancouver is just heavenly for landscape. We've also road-tripped along the west coast from north of San Fran to Big Sur. Unbelievable landscape. But, Justice Grrl and lifewaves, I long to share your visions: Yosemite is high on my list, and Rickard's Lake sounds like my kind of oasis.

  5. Good to hear that you appreciate Saskatchewan's landscape, which is so often underrated by those who've only travelled the Transcanada Highway and think the place is flat and empty.

    We live on a gorgeous planet!

  6. Canana is beautiful. In a fight between Scotland and Canada, Canada would knock Scotland's lochs and heather into a cocked hat. What is a cocked hat, anyway? Do they have cocked hats in Canada? Or is there a French word for them?

    I'm not very good at appreciating the beauty of scenery while it's before me, so thank God for cameras.

  7. I'm from the Pacific Northwest (Idaho originally, then Oregon) and a HUGE appreciater of landscape, but I can see, having moved to Michigan about 10 years ago, it can be forgotten, when cities are so densely packed and the altitude changes so little. No drama of oceans and when there is little altitude change, the rivers are slow and lazy. Out west it is impossible not to feel the awe and give over to it. Here, I can barely FIND it.

    Then again, I love wandering in a big city where not a person in the world knows who I am. I just like that... feeling small.

  8. K, I have yet to truly appreciate the Saskatchewan Prairie, so that's on my list too.

    It's interesting, Hart, your take on being a small cog in the big city wheel. I relate to that too. I really like that feeling.

    And M.J., I don't know what a cocked hat is, but it sounds very sexy. And my bet for the French word for it: chapeau a la cock...

  9. It is so great to listen to everyone whispering sweet nothings into their countryside's ear. EARTH TOTALLY KICKS OTHER PLANETS ASSES! But I have to say to M.J.that nothing can get my soul stirring like the Scottish countryside. Killer! Heather and Scottish accents and 263 different shades of green. Ach aye!

  10. I love landscapes. I agree there is nothing more peaceful as a road trip. Living in Texas there is country views everywhere. When I am feeling too stressed or need to work on a problem. Fill the tank and I'm off.
    Driving has kept me sane through a lot of life's problems. It has quited my mind and allowed me to see solutions where I couldn't see them before.

  11. When the BC Gov. came up with The Best Place on Earth to describe our province, I was happy that this was one thing I could actually agree with. We are so lucky across this beautiful land of ours that we can all call our provinces "the best place." My favourite vistas are from the Sea to Sky highway driving up to Whistler. It is Nature in all her magnificence. Thanks for this post, D&B! I'm sitting here working away so it was nice to take a break and imagine that glorious drive once again.

  12. Having gone whitewater rafting down the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania yesterday, I also could not agree with you more. Part of me was so frustrated I was not equipped with a waterproof camera to take in the incredible breathtaking beauty where valleys and trees met water and sky. But then the other part of me just told myself to breathe it into my memory; that no camera anyway could truly take in the panorama, and moreso, the way it made me feel.


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