Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Highway Ten Again - James Lileks

The best contemporary writer describing the everyday and awesome in the American Midwest: James Lileks

We walked outside, and I saw something I am almost ashamed to say I’ve forgotten. Living in the city you don’t see rain approaching like you do in the desert or the prairie.

In the city you read rumors in the clouds over your house, above the trees; the clouds prepare the way, the wind stirs up an oration for the approaching majesty – all kneel! – and then the rain comes in, rolls over, rolls past. You never see the rain you don’t get. In the prairie you watch the rain in the distance, watch it fall miles away, and it seems as if it has a will and a purpose, as if it’s chosen that place, not yours. The clouds almost look alive, as if they’re grazing, a great and unnamable beast.


In Wadena I pulled over in the park by the tracks to call the office, and a train barreled through as I was talking: just held up the phone to give an office worker the sound of the Great World Beyond, the siren blowing that perfect chord, the National Anthem of Anywhere But Here, then the wheels on the rails, clankCLANK, clankCLANK, clankCLANK, then the fussy annoyed aftermath when the commotion has blown through and the signals ding-ding and raise their arms with rote theatrical annoyance. Well that was certainly something, wasn’t it. Such a production.

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