Land and Water

Since I went to college in Spokane, Washington (at a school where a strangely large number of Coloradans chose to attend) in the eastern/inland part of the state, I had the unfortunate experience of commonly hearing the mountain vs. water conversation.

Seattle/Puget Sound people were in the "water" category - a.k.a "I cannot live in a place without water - and there were a ton of them. And the Coloradans would home-sickenly fly their state flags and make fun of Pacific Northwestern topography (except for Mt. Ranier, which, technically, is a volcano, and you can never really see anyway). They were the mountain people.

I am from Colorado, and, admittedly, Colorado does not have water. I've been to the biggest lake in Colorado. It's not that big. It's beautiful, but it's made from glaciers, and is super cold even in the summer, and is far away from everything.

Now I live and work by Lake Michigan, and I'd tell you how many times bigger it is than Grand Lake (that one in Colorado), but I don't feel like calculating it because Wikipedia gives Grand Lake in terms of acres and Lake Michigan in terms of square miles. Mitch and I live three blocks away from the beach, and my desk at work overlooks the lake and Navy Pier. I run by the lake for exercise. I walk out there when I talk to my friends on the phone.

Even my commute is right along the there. After doing this for over a year, I have spent a lot of time with that lake.

And I was thinking, today, on my way home, that I don't know how those water people do it. Lake Michigan is beautiful and fantastic. I love it, but I don't know how one emotionally connects to water. The thing with mountains is that you come to know their profiles, their scars, their outlines against the sky. You become familiar with all these distinct and static markers; it's almost like knowing a person's face.*

That Lake always changes, though. It looks one way with the sun behind it in the morning, red and misty. It freezes in big veinous patterns in the winter. Sometimes, it blends in perfectly with the sky. There's nothing to memorize. Nothing is fixed.

And while beautiful, it seems, to me, alien, like there's nothing for me to connect to. And I think, maybe this will change, for me, in a couple of years.

*For our friends in South Dakota, especially.

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