I have a lot of observations from this transitional experience and it is interesting to think of which part of the whole thing is actually 'relevant' to my DA blog. One thing that comes to mind is to focus on aesthetic gestalts which took over my perceptions as I was traveling back East that surprised or shocked my senses. For instance, I was appalled by a feeling of desolation when I looked at the mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia until I realized that in Colorado the mountains are green year around because of all the pine, whereas deciduous hillsides turn brown. Even though I intellectually know that it is just a question of species of trees in various areas of the Earth my emotional reaction was more akin to a kind of post-disaster wave of death that had sucked the color out of the land. Even when I talked myself through it...I could not shake the feeling. Presumably, one gets used to it when one lives here... Even more importantly, Spring, Summer and Fall must come as absolute revelations!!
Speaking of West Virginia -- there was a definite sense there of beautiful country absolutely raped by greed. Of course, the real story is poverty and the attendant inability to say 'no' to any sort of development...but one cannot help but gape at wounds in the ground leaching toxic liquid into communities and their rivers. My wife and I both remarked on this and then, two weeks later, the big story on the coal-chemical spill into the water table there came out and there was an eerie sense of inevitability. In fact, we had driven right through that town where it happened.
I don't want it to sound like I wasn't enjoying my trip into fresh cultures and ecosystems though. I grew up in the West, and have traveled primarily in the West. These places were all new to me, and I was definitely amazed by how different every little detail was. The birds were different, the leaves on the ground, the fence posts, the houses and farms, even the semiotics of the highways and ramps was different enough to confuse my instincts for how to drive and find my way. And I like that subtle alienation and wakefulness that comes from not knowing what one is doing - there is a watchfulness and mindfulness that is a very high aesthetic state.
And DC...DC is amazing...perhaps I will detail that in my next post.