"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blue Highways



On the back roads in West Texas...I found this rusting, vacant grain elevator at Tulia...I feel a painting coming. Can you imagine the stories told in this place?

I love West Texas, even if I'm usually just trying to get across it. The wide-open expanses and exciting skies speak to me. The few people who live there are friendly, hardworking folks who know how to survive the bitter winters and the almost constant wind. This area was the last stand of the Comanche, the last really free people in America.

A favorite book is William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways, where as a modern day Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, he travels across America on the back roads--"blue highways" because they're so marked on the maps.

When you get off the interstates and drive those blue highways, you breathe, you slow down, you relax, you imagine. The future isn't so scary, isn't so hurried or complicated, isn't full of stress and troubles and resentments. You start living in present tense.

That's perking in my coffee pot.

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