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Eureka North & Babcock Roads – Eureka, Walla Walla County, Washington

When traveling around I spend as little time on the main roads as possible. I choose these less traveled roads because they afford me the opportunities to go slow and to stop most of the time at will to observe, to explore, or photograph these seemingly empty places.

And I do mean seemingly empty places. In the American West, there are places that are truly wild and empty, but over the last 150 years they have become islands in a vast sea of being settled. There are relatively few places that I cannot reach by an automobile and that fact alone makes them part of the sea.

Because I live in an urban environment the majority of my life is spent in the deep parts of that settled sea, with only a few days a year spent paddling around in its shallows. Rarely, especially now that I am getting older, do I venture to those islands.

Because of the disparity of where I spend my time the relative differences become exaggerated. At first glance when I stop at a rural intersection I feel as if I reached the edge of the earth, my thoughts edging towards the notion that there is nothing to see.

Of course that is an illusion. The fields around me are often fenced so the domesticated livestock don’t wander off. Utilities poles are so common that I often don’t notice them at first. Rarely do 30 minutes go by that at least one car doesn’t pass by me on its way towards some small town a few miles further on down the road.

Still I find myself soaking up how empty these places feel. Maybe I am affected by the notion that I am beyond the constraints of my life, free to be anonymous and through that free to redefine who I am.

Of course that is impossible. Just like these places are not empty my life is not empty. In fact it is nearly full and the weight of that fullness holds me in place. One day though, suddenly, it will empty out, and flood towards something. Hopefully it will be one of those islands that have so often defined my dreams.

Copyright 2012 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved.

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