Some Thoughts on Place

Amusing interaction:

Me: Poor M [one of the few co-workers I like]. As I was jumping up and down sharing my news of getting to quit, she told me that her partner got into Duquesne Law School, and she’ll be stuck here at least another four years.

J: That sucks. She’s not a Pittsburgher, right? Isn’t she from Pennsyltucky?

Me: Um, ‘scuse me?

J:[holds up right hand] Yeah, you’ve got Pittsburgh over here, [holds up left hand] Philadelphia over here, and [gestures wildly with both hands] everything else in between, Pennsyltucky.

Me: [falls down laughing] HAHAHAHA!

J: Hmmm. I suppose now we’re moving to Virgintucky.

Seriously, though, I was musing on and talking with J. about some of the things we were discussing in LJ recently. I was meditating on just what it is, specifically, about particular landscapes that makes them un-appealing to me, why I prefer certain places over others. And J. said something really insightful, something that really gets at the heart of the issue, in light of his trip to VA, his initial impressions that that place, while pretty, just doesn’t *do it* for him.

And here is the common thread: The places that don’t resonate with me seem to not do so because they’re disturbed landscapes. It’s definitely not exclusively a geographic issue, not that I can only fully appreciate Western Places (though those are clearly my favorites). Because I can adore say, the NJ Pine Barrens, the all-too-few-remaining longleaf pines of GA, the murky swamplands of FL. No, often the places that don’t feel *right* to me are degraded landscapes. Western PA has bazillions and bazillions of trees and forests, but they’re all forests that have been clearcut, probably several times. Iowa has been completely leveled and cleared of its lovely, prairieland to make room for corn and soybean and corn and soybean and corn and soybean crops.

Maybe I have an overly-romanticized attraction to pristine places, native places, landscapes that do not bear the obvious mark(s) of human impact. Maybe I’m stuck on this notion of “wildness,” whether that be here or in the South or someplace out west.

I’m sure this whole idea could use a LOT more meditation, that this is only one small part of the larger picture. but it’s interesting to have isolated something more concrete than just a sense impression, a feeling.


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