Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beyond the River

I love traveling to eastern Oregon. Beautiful country, wonderful people.

There's a roughness to the soil and to the bark of trees in the high desert. The quality of the greens speak of thrift and toughness. The rivers are wild, liquid gems--not just beautiful, but much more obviously precious because of the dry all around them. Juniper, sage and pine lend an incense-like perfume to the air. And this time of year there's a sharpness to0--the clean cold. To me it doesn't seem to go deep as fast as the same temperature in the wet regions, but it's fierce and wakes up my mind. Coming into that cold from a warmer, wet area, I'm startled when I step outside or crack the car window, but I warm right back up when I'm sheltered again.

I'm snuggled up right now, with gorgeous hand-knitted socks on my feet (thank you J!) My belly is full, and I'm quiet in my heart. I'm glad we made the trip.

Like any other life experience, travel can inspire writing. I don't think it's essential to good writing, but it sure helps to have direct knowledge of ecosystems and cultures beyond the places you live and shop and go to the dentist. Going from suburb to urban, urban to rural, across the railroad tracks, across the state line, across the nation border can not only provide a foundation for writing about new places, but lend a new perspective on your regular stomping grounds. Even when I write about home, I have a sense of what's just a few hours of driving away, beyond the river in view of mountains strange and wonderful to my eyes.

No comments: