Monday, May 22, 2006

The middle

Here’s my favorite part of a picture: the middle distance. Not those things closest up, nor those farthest away. I like what’s going on between here and there. It could be children pushing wooden wheels with rods, or a pair of legs disappearing into the ocean or just a field of wheat between a girl and a barn. Not the ploughman up close, not the castle being attacked, not the boat out at sea.

I look at the landscape like that, too. Today, I climbed a hill north of town and got as far as I could go without trespassing. From up there, you can really see how the river carved out its path, leaving precipitous drop-offs that, up-close, look rather mild. The horizon seemed too close, though. I wanted it to be farther, to be able to see all the way over that planetary hump to the ocean on the other end so I could focus on what's in between here and there.

And much as I used to look east when I lived in the West, I found myself looking west today. I wanted to know what’s going on in that middle distance before the continent hits the water on the other side. For some reason, today, that seemed to be where everything is. Not here, not there, but between. And it made me feel like everything that has ever happened to me happened a long time ago.

As I walked down the hill and home, the town and its houses were quiet. There were no people outside. It was a little cool, but dry. The trees made up for the silence of the people. The wind made branches and leaves rock and thrash in broad currents and whorls. It was very much like a stormy sea.