[June 15, 2015 Part of Our roadtrip to coastal North Carolina]
June 8th, 2015: On NC-99 between Plymouth and Pantego, NC Somehow we’ve ended up in Indiana.
We’ve come upon commercialized farmland which I haven’t seen since Indiana—flat, seamlessly planted fields that run to the horizon. The roads drop away plumb-line straight and like infinity, tend to hypnotize. Any sense of speed is suspended. We aren’t driving so much as floating while the landscape sluices by. There is no point of reference to compare our motion to other bodies. It’s like being, I would imagine, on a vast calm ocean or an interstellar voyage–everything is far away, your relative motion all but imperceptible. The road and the fields are unbroken, undemarcated lines that make it hard to judge speed in the same way judging a mile-long train’s speed: they seem stationary until they go blaring by like tornadoes. Without landmarks, I can see how someone can easily break 80, 90 miles an hour and not be aware of it
I yell at the kids in the back to look out their windows at the view and they do look up from their ipads and wonder what I am trying to show them. They are used to hills and trees and houses and here they only see geometric planes of browns and greens; I might as well be showing them a gray-laden, blank sky. To me it speaks of where I grew up and reminds me of my long trips between Chicago and southern Indiana during college breaks, hours of riding a road through unbroken cornfields that numbed friends mad from lack of scenery. But you drive it long enough and you learn to appreciate—what I later learned is called—the “negative space” of the scenery, which is the space around and between things, sort of like Indiana; it’s a space between other states in the Midwest—which I learned some people think includes all the states until the Rockies, which really are called the Great Plains—and likewise the way the Midwest is, to some people, all that space between New York and say, San Diego [hmm, Leslie.] Needless to say, they don’t bring the needed baggage to understand or appreciate industrial-grade farming for its austere and glacially-paced beauty.