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."