What is the world like outside “the city?”

It depends where you are.

In the Rocky Mountains a person hears the wind sighing for her love through the leaves of the pines and aspens.  In the Mojave Desert that same wind moves oven heat across mesas and ancient ocean beds, scouring them clean of any living thing not strong enough to stand.  The sunlight reflecting in the heat waves above the highway tells your eyes your car should be splashing through mirages instead of rolling dryer than old bones.

In town it’s difficult to see the stars through the neon pollution of screaming commercialism.  In the suburbs, one can pick the major constellations out of the glow.  Man-made satellites are but an intellectual rumor.  But in those Rocky Mountains, in the Mojave Desert, at night those constellations are swallowed alive in the myriads of stars that explode and cascade across the draped black velvet of the night.  Away from the city, away from the suburbs, a person can sit outside on a calm night and scan the sky’s bowl for satellites, because they are, indeed, visible.  Sitting outside, watching the constellations wheel around Polaris stills the soul, it gives a person time to think.  One falls asleep watching those stars, and, waking, finds the Milky Way has twisted in the sky, no longer where it was as we drifted off.

It is quietly exciting to stand a stick in the earth and sight across its top at a constellation or major star and watch that constellation or its star, move up and counter-clockwise from the top of the stick.  It’s even more fun to watch the Moon entangle herself in the arms of an old oak tree, then shun his embrace to climb the night.

We drove from our home on its forested acres in the Ozark Mountain foothills to Dallas a fortnight ago.  My wife summed it up when she commented, “I can’t see the stars, and I can feel the wind on my face, but I can’t hear it.”

I miss the peace, the unlimited vista, the silence of the forest.

The conveniences of the city are not a fair trade.