On Winter Skies and the Solace of Open Spaces
In a high school English class, we were once made to read an essay, called "The Solace of Open Spaces" by Gretel Ehrlich. I remember the piece only vaguely and don't want to spoil my memory's version of it by re-reading it today. It was about the great plains of Wyoming - or rather, about the author's reaction to their overwhelming vastness. I have never been to that part of the US and have not seen the landscape she describes. But I recall vividly the flash of self-recognition I experienced when reading her words. The solace of open spaces. Yes, that is how I feel.
In Boston, as in most cities, there is not much opportunity to experience vastness. I can cycle to the Harbor to get my fix, but somehow that only reminds me of how far removed I normally am from such a landscape; it is not part of my everyday existence.
And then yesterday, I was crossing a bridge over the Charles River and looked up at the sky. The sky was everywhere. And it was a winter sky - such a surreal, piercing shade of blue can only manifest itself this time of year. The black branches of the bare trees almost looked like bits of lace trim against the satin-white ribbon of the icy river, and the expanse of the sky itself seemed otherworldly. I felt light-headed and comforted at the same time, and the speed of the bicycle, with the icy wind against my face, accentuated the experience. While I know that this is just my way of dramaticising daily existence, I am nonetheless thankful for it. Life in general happens mostly in our minds, and now my mind is filled with winter sky, the sensation of speed, and the solace of open spaces.