I live at the north end of Chubbuck in an ordinary American middle-class housing development. I frequently take walks around the neighborhood and the local community park, which I enjoy – but which aren’t much different from walking around my old neighborhood in Hollywood (except for the snow).
Yesterday I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. Sandwiched between two houses right across the street is a narrow walkway. I asked a neighbor about it. He told me that before this subdivision was built, there had been a road there, leading to an older neighborhood.
So, of course today I had to explore it.
I was surprised that, just a few steps from my house, I was suddenly on a quiet country road, surrounded by cattle, horses and vast open fields blanketed in snow. On the horizon, snow covered mountains.
This is merely another instance of how different this place is from where I spent the last eighteen years. In LA, the “wild” lands – Griffith Park, for example – are the exception; islands in the vast city. The norm is “city” – nature thoroughly subdued by humans.
Here, the norm is nature. Human activity is imposed on the landscape; our cities, towns and villages are islands in the wild.
I think that there is more to be learned here. There is a difference in viewpoint between the citizens of the metropolis and the citizens of the countryside. What is the ground of our experience – city or nature? Survival in the city requires an entirely different mindset and skill set than survival in the countryside. The requirements of life in each colors our perception and expectation of life. Unfortunately, the difference is not widely understood, and each side just thinks the other is crazy.
Perhaps the Metropolitan viewpoint is more mature, sophisticated and intelligent, but personally, I find the countryside much more beautiful.