JUNE 15, 2009 7:58PM

strangers in strange lands

Rate: 6 Flag

In high school my little sisters were friends with an exchange student from Norway.  One day they were all on the highway heading to some local place of interest when their friend got very excited and asked them to please pull over.  She leapt out of the car and started taking pictures.  My sisters were puzzled. There was nothing to see -- no buildings, no wildlife, just fallow fields.  Geologically the  area is flat glacial till on the edge of the Great Plains.  She stood in the middle of the  road and asked them to take her picture.  When they were back in the  car, my sisters asked Merete why she'd wanted to take pictures there.  She laughed and told them she'd never seen such a long, straight road.  There were no long, straight roads where she was from.  She'd never seen land so flat, a road so straight, a horizon so wide.


As an army recruit my father spent a few months stationed somewhere in Illinois. He had a bunkmate from Hawaii. When spring came, his bunkmate walked around with an expression of dazzled wonder on his face.  Winter had been amazing, he told my father, but when he experienced spring for the first time he finally understood the concept of resurrection.


I was in Toulon with my sisters.  We went to a small restaurant perched on a hilly side street for lunch.  We all ordered the "Salade Exotique."  It was wonderful: fresh and simple with a sparky vinaigrette. But we couldn't figure out what made it exotique.  So we asked.  The waitress was surprised by our question, but not nearly so surprised as we by her answer: "Le maïs."  We grew up surrounded by cornfields. 


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tells a story about Moors from the Sahara who were taken to the Alps.  Their guide brought them to a tremendous waterfall and they were loath to leave.  They lingered, and when asked why, they said  "We must wait."  "Wait for what?"  "The end."

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Lovely stories. A reminder to take a second look at the world around us using a fresh point of view.
Just wonderful. I liked the last one best. It almost makes perfect sense if you've never seen a waterfall before.
Funny how we become so complacent about where we live when we really only see less than a third of it at any given time (my own opinion, not a fact). I've lived in this area for sixteen years now, and I'm constantly finding places and things I didn't know existed.

In order to see, one must look.

Rated. Loved these little vignettes.
Wonderful touching thoughtful stories. this one was very poignant: Winter had been amazing, he told my father, but when he experienced spring for the first time he finally understood the concept of resurrection.

I suppose rebirth of our own blossoming selves, too, cannot exist the winter of our discontent.
Great reminders. All of them.

And thank you. You commented on an (anonymous) post of mine. So I found your posts. It's wonderful to be appreciated by someone I admire greatly.
Yes, thankyou for these, they are great little thoughts. I'm reminded of the C S Lewis book I am currently reading, in which a character says that he and his wife love weather. Someone corrects him, saying surely he means they love 'good weather', or 'sunny weather'. He says no, just weather; and that we were all like this as kids - pouring rain was exciting, snow was fun and beautiful - it's only as adults that we learn to see them as negative. It's good to be reminded to look at things differently.

I also found your posts after you commented on mine - so thank you, and you have made me want to start posting again!
lifehalflived: Thank you.

latethink: The waterfall story is my favorite, also. Stands to reason: that was Saint-Exupéry's story. I was thinking of it and it reminded me of the others.

Bill S.: I know! Who woulda thunk vultures would be beautiful? In those photos of yours they don't look anything like the long, rednecked version in the old Warner Bros. cartoons (my standard vulture reference: for some reason those made a bigger impression on me than any I've seen in African wildlife documentaries.) Thank you, I'm glad you enj0yed these.

Newton: Thank you. That story made quite an impression on me when I was young. I had such trouble imagining not knowing winter and spring. You know how Paradise is usually represented as some eternal garden of lushness, buzzing and full of milk and honey? That constant fecundity had no appeal for me. I knew I'd miss a stark landscape.

cartouche: Thank you. Wouldn't it be great if we had brain synapses uniquely devoted to reminding us of these kinds of things?

Dolly: Thank you for visiting and for the lovely compliment. But now I'm curious about the anonymous post...

trumpetmonkey: I was happy to have found your blog. I reached it by searching for "grace" in OS. Do start posting again. Thank you for telling me about C.S. Lewis and the weather. I quite agree. There is no bad weather, only weather. It seems peevish and monomaniacal to gauge its value in proportion to one's convenience.

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