I hated the Midwest the entire six years I lived there — and, no, hated is not too strong a word — but now that I’ve been back in the Pacific Northwest for over twenty years, I can admit there are some things that I miss about the landscape there. Spring wildflowers carpeting the ground under the bare-limbed woods. The colors of fall (but not trees after the leaves fall, which then proceed to look dead for the ensuing six months). And the wide-open spaces. I even took a vacation to North Dakota summer before last, and reveled in a sky that looked like it took up more than 180 degrees horizon to horizon.
It’s not that I want to move anywhere else, you understand, but there are aspects of all the places I’ve lived that I wish I could have brought with me. Well, except for Louisiana, but we left there when I was three and it didn’t make much of an impression.
- Southern California gave me a need for color all year round. My father used to prune the roses in our yard there back every January, not because they’d gone dormant, but because if he didn’t, the bushes would grow so tall that the flowers would bloom six feet over our heads, where we couldn’t appreciate them.
- Colorado showed me what seasons are like. I still remember my mother waking me up before dawn the first day it snowed in our yard, so that I could see the flakes falling. And living so close to real mountains is very different from just visiting them from time to time.
- Northern California isn’t at all like southern California. Not desert, but fertile farmland. I’d never been to a place where I could pick my own produce before. And while neither were in my backyard anymore, both the ocean and real mountains were only a day trip away.
- The Willamette Valley of Oregon is so, so green and lush. More fertile farmland, but the mountains wrap around the valley like a hug. I was back in the land of seasons, too. They were called About to Rain, Rain, Showers, and Road Construction <wry g>.
- And then somehow I left that glory and moved to the Midwest, first Indiana then Ohio, which turned out to be a colossal mistake.
- When I finally escaped back West, I took a job in Montana. Not the wide-open spaces of eastern Montana, but to a small town in a claustrophobically steep-sided river valley in the far northwest corner of the state. Evergreens as far as the eye could see. I wasn’t there long enough to experience a winter, but I suspect claustrophobic wouldn’t have begun to describe it.
- And then here, in western Washington, where I have volcanoes, an inland sea, an ocean two hours away, and, you’d think, just about anything a person could want. Except those wide-open spaces and early spring wildflowers.
So, do you have geography from places you’ve lived that you wish you could have brought with you to where you live now?