On Scenery

On Scenery

I’m not a big fan of scenery. Like, I don’t care about mountain views and ocean vistas and stuff. Mountains, in general, are useless to me. They make me think of huffing and puffing and disturbing creatures that would prefer more personal space than they are given and my strong desire to not be eaten by a bear. Oceans: pretty. But again, going on that treacherous stuff in boats doesn’t really appeal. I read The Perfect Storm; I’m no idiot.

Maybe this is why I never question staying in Minnesota for the rest of my life. It doesn’t really matter, where I live, I guess. I don’t have some gasping yearning for a certain type of life backdrop. And Minnesota scenery does a nice job of being aloof and unobtrusive.It’s scenery built for roads, really. What does a farm care if there’s a road in the middle of it?

When I traveled in South America, this usually involved taking a rickety 1970’s bus on brutal mountain switchbacks at high speeds. Once the luggage rack of one of these buses flung itself down the side of the cliff as we screeched past. We spent an hour watching the driver and passengers collecting their belongings from the relative unsafety of the guard-rail-free perch.

Once when I was dumb and in love, I drove through the mountains in Colorado in a terrible rainstorm in my boyfriend’s car which had a history of breaking down when some little bit in the engine got wet. This was before cell phones.

(So, mountains. You can have them.)

In the class I taught yesterday, we discussed descriptive writing in the age of cinema and video games. Will writers growing up on video games lose track of this need of readers, to be geographically situated in a specific place and time? I dislike writing descriptions of scenery; I often skip over these passages in books, to my peril; sometimes I have no sense of where a book is situated and have to return to the boring skipped part to figure it out. Dummy.

The class I taught was in Brainerd, Minnesota, 2+ hours away from me. It seemed like a long drive on paper, but it flew by. I spent the entire time not having to pay homage to the scenery on either side of the road and instead just enjoyed a stream of thinky thoughts about my fake people and their fake journeys and fake problems. Even in ugly grey winter, Minnesota scenery is nice. Polite. Not getting in anyone’s way.

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