Thursday, October 19, 2006


Acton Lake at Ohio's Hueston Woods State Park

I’m not sure why, but after I returned from my trip back “home” to Ohio I spent time contemplating the differences between the two places I call home; Cincinnati, where I used to live and Salt Lake City, where I now reside. Maybe it’s because my kids really noticed the differences: the lack of mountains in Ohio, the greenness of Ohio, that the big deciduous trees whose leaves were changing from green to the lovely shades of autumn are so much different in Ohio. There were also odd things my kids noticed. My son (age 17) thought there were lots of rednecks in Ohio, and my daughter (age 14) found kids in Ohio very unfashionable.

Having lived in the suburbs in both places I can say that suburbs are suburbs, it's when you leave the ‘burbs that things are most different to me. The southwest Ohio countryside is full of rolling hills, farmland and deciduous forest dotted with quaint old towns and idyllic barns and pastures. Around Salt Lake you travel through barren rangeland, covered in sagebrush and grazed by cows, antelope and deer; or you find yourself in breathtaking mountain wilderness areas. A little longer drive lands you in the amazing rocky canyons and deserts of southern Utah. Ohio has the pastoral countryside, Utah the rugged wilderness. Different in many ways, but I honestly love them both.

A weird thing happened to me the other night. I stopped at the library to find a "how to pick a college" book for my son. I’m standing in the stacks looking for the book, and when I turn to leave I spy a book on the shelf directly behind me. The word "Cincinnati" caught my eye. The title of the book was “The Cincinnati Arch: Learning from Nature in the City”. I was surprised to see Cincinnati in the title of a book at the Salt Lake County library and after returning from Cincinnati just a few days before it really piqued my interest. The book is about a wilderness lover who finds himself stuck living in the rust belt city of Cincinnati. It’s not a novel, but more of introspective, philosophical narrative about the author, John Tallmadge’s, experience as he learns to live in the city and contemplate his love for wilderness from an urban perspective. If reading about his experiences in my old hometown wasn’t interesting enough, it turns out he had lived in Utah for a number of years while he was a professor at the University of Utah (where I work) . Sections of the book describe some of his Utah wilderness experiences. Being a nature and wilderness lover myself, and having experienced many of the places he describes, I’ve really enjoyed this book.

It also makes me wonder about what I call weird cosmic experiences; those odd times when the stars and the moon seem to align in a meaningful away. I hadn’t been to the library in months. What is the probability that I would stop at the library, and just happen upon a book that chronicles experiences in two places I call home, at a time when I was pondering my life experiences in both those places? Crazy how life works sometimes!!

The photo of the Great Egret was also taken at Acton Lake. A little blurry perhaps, but not to bad for a quick snapshot with my tiny pocket camera!

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