Friday, December 5, 2008

the beauty of brown

We drove to Illinois today on what is henceforth to be called the "Annual Christmas Pilgrimage to the Frozen Homeland." The green melted away quickly as we proceeded north up through the central part of the state, from plentiful cedar trees lining I-65 to Japanese honeysuckle in its last throes of life clinging to fences.

Skeletons of goldenrods, pampas grass and other common prairie plants, dried leaves suspended on oak trees, remnants of cornstalks and soybean fields, piles of branches collected from summer storms, reeds and solitary shrubs in the median strips, a pine split in half--all contrasted with the occasional man-made brown of local attraction signs along the highway.

This was the aspect of the trip to Illinois that I had dreaded: the drive up north, to slowly watch the landscape become more dried and barren. Miles of nothing but houses, farms and graineries jutting up from brown. Worried that I might come to realize that I was glad to be living away from it, far away south, nestled in Tennessee.

For the first time, after all the years of living in Illinois, I noticed the tones of winter outside of the spectrum of snow colors (white, of course, but we mustn't forget yellow and black). Olive green, silver, and all the shades of brown that you can find in a stand of trees and in the fields lining the highway--coffee bean, burnt sienna, amber, chestnut, tan, rust, chocolate, sepia, auburn. I have never been deferent to brown, but moving away from Illinois has given me a third eye to be able to see beauty in a landscape that I once dismissed as ugly.

It must be possible to love two places and call them home, and have people agree that you belong to both of them and they belong to you. To admit that you love one and still not betray the other.


Annie in Austin said...

Hello Moonflower, (one of my favorite flowers!)

Your comment at Walk2Write's blog drew me here and your photos of the drive are a lot like what we've seen when driving from Austin to Chicago, especially when we go back for Christmas.

My grown children live in 3 different states, so my husband and I have three places to try to belong're young and your kids are with you. Maybe that will help you feel real in both Illinois and Tennessee.

Thanks for the photos of the Christkindle market - my son and wife go there each year and it's cool to see what it looks like.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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