Seeing nature, America defined

America is defined differently on the East Coast.

In the Midwest, it is about a peaceful quiet, simple beauty, nature clean enough to dip summer toes into blue sparkling water, and sunshine along gently rolling corn fields with country highways.

One view of the Midwest and, hence, of America. An image such as this could lead to connotations of a poetic concept of the country, of a pristine beauty of nature and land.

The area of forest patches increases with latitude, home to wildlife, brilliant spring ephemerals and late season berries.

History’s role in the definition of the U.S. is more obvious on the train ride from Newark to New York City.

Meandering rivers are murky pea-green testaments to past factories and industrial pollution. Shoreline invasive plants signify failed ecological restoration attempts (we all learn from experience, even the scientists).

The satellite view of the land a train ride from Newark, NJ passes over and under to reach New York City, NY, exemplifies the urbanisation and industrialised history of this land so many people met first in North America. Map source: google maps.

All of this has created a new, human-version of nature at odds with the pristine serenity of the North Woods and what we Midwesterners can think of as “Natural”.

America appears to be much about pride along the East Coast; it is a massive collective of people hovering on the once “new” side of an expansive continent they thought was made for their exploration and exploitation.

Promise of what can and has been is everywhere. Concrete highways crisscross over scattered trash, past old factories, dilapidated homes and new buildings.

You can choose to focus on the decay of history, everything does disappear, or see the perpetual movement, innovation, and collectivity of a nation diverse and always changing. And that is the amazing characteristic of the East Coast definition of America: there isn’t one static form, it moves alongside time and humanity.


Seeing Nature and defining America
(a Midwesterner’s first trip to the East Coast, 29jul2015)