Saturday, September 20, 2008

Every state line...

Took the scenic route home tonight on purpose. Had a lot of my mind that was best ruminated in the mountains with Nick Drake in the stereo. Funny how the same road can look so different in the opposite direction. The rolling purple hills accented by the setting sun's orange glow, a silhouette of wind turbines, a corn maze and an obelisk all greeted me as I headed back east through VT. Chill enough, too, for woodstoves to add that delicious wood smoke scent to my journey. I cracked my windows for most of the trip back in an attempt to absorb the experience. 

Drives like this make me yearn for a simpler life, with the dawn waking me and the moonrise completing my day. To be connected to a place like this - to the workings of the seasons and the timings of life's little sequences - sounds so right. This was in stark contrast to earlier in the day when I sat in a greek restaurant located on a busy highway, which instead of windows, they had an artist paint tromp l'oeil versions of Mediterranean vistas. Why should a state line, an arbitrary and unnatural boundary, have such an obvious effect on culture? 

When I left my home state of NY though Troy and crossed into Vermont, I knew I was in the state before I even saw the first VT sign. The culture is different. Peoples children were outside in Vermont. Fields were bountiful with crops, farms were old yet cared for. There's something in the air, even. When I crossed into NY on Friday I started sneezing any nose ran for no reason. But don't VT and NY share the same air? The same soil? why has this difference evolved? 

A friend suggested that the pollution might be causing my sniffles in Albany as she handed me a glass of filtered water. Where do you start when all of the population's knowledge about the environment starts with "Don't drink the water, the PCBs are all over the Hudson." Yes, it has basis in fact, but seems to state such despair, or worse, fear. The best solutions aren't universal and approaching one culture, whether it be a country, religion, political affiliation or state line can be a challenge. 

I often get overwhelmed and want to fix everything. My only hope is that I can find something that will make difference to people. Moving to Vermont to live a simpler life is tempting, but is there more work to be done on the other side of "the line"?

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