“It is wholesome and necessary things for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson
Earth is such a glorious paradox. It is everywhere, so common and typical but—at the same time—so unique, showing beauty and variety specific to each place. Earth can run alongside a road or stretch across an open field; it can reach the heights of a mountain or stay close to the ground, supporting blossoms. No matter where Earth is, it is worthy of celebration. Over the last several years, I have enjoyed Earth across several states as pictured below.
I have always liked Woody Guthrie’s ballad “This Land Is Your Land” that he wrote in 1940. I was aware of the song from the 1960s when Peter, Paul & Mary sang it. It moved me in great part because of the intimacy of the lyrics. The beauty of this great country is truly yours, mine, ours, there for all to appreciate. Even as a kid, I was aware that not everyone took the time to admire all the beauty around us. But it is always there.
As an adult, I travel by car as often as possible because it allows me a closer connection to the myriad of landscapes across the country. I like the sense of freedom and solitude such drives give me. Since the roads—paved or not—stretch from coast to coast across all terrains, I can visit most anywhere. I prefer country roads over city streets, because there I am more apt to see nature, get the feel for the open road, and glimpse the vast panoramas of land and sky.
Here—with a little creative editing—is my favorite verse from the Guthrie’s song.
“As I was [traveling] that ribbon of highway
I saw above me the endless skyway. . . .
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.”
The photos are from some of my recent travels, demonstrating the freedom, beauty and diversity of American highways. I live in California and am often drawn to the Southwest for some adventures as well. What are your favorite places to be out on the open road, on “that ribbon of highway”?
Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
See Canyon, Near Avila Beach
Big Sur Hills & Coastline
SOME MIDWESTERN HIGHWAYS
BOSQUE DE APACHE, NEW MEXICO, HIGHWAYS
SAUGARO NATIONAL PARK, ARIZONA, HIGHWAYS
Coral Reef National Park
Canyonlands National Park, Needles
Zion & Kolob Canyons National Park
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A LITTLE SIDE NOTE
As an adult, while I truly love the great beauty and diversity of this land of ours, I am equally aware of our country’s problems. Guthrie was aware of the discrepancies in society as well, motivating a satirical if not cynical view to “This Land Is Your Land.” He wrote the famed lyrics, in part, as a political protest. Bruce Springsteen performed the song live in the 1980s, acknowledging the harsh realities evident in society that some say question the validity of the lyrics. But through all the problems, the beauty and potential of America still shine through. As Springsteen says in his opening comments, it’s “about one of the most beautiful songs ever written about America.”