Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cyber Journeys

Gladys and I took the class outside during field biology. She shared an interest with me in everything that grows as we smelled the wild root beer aroma of three-leaved sassafras, tasted dandelion flowers and touched green moss. We identified poison ivy and stinging nettle, then squished the juice out of their counteragent, jewelweed.

One day as Gladys and I were talking I mentioned that I have hardly been anywhere except Southeastern Ohio, Missouri and back again. She grinned and said. “But girl, you sure did find a lot to love right where you are.” I guess with that she is right. The diversity of the wild things that thrive in our little corner of the world amazes me. I told her I have no desire to travel because I detest highways. So, Gladys will be surprised when I tell her that I have become a world traveler.

It all began when my youngest looked our address up on the computer via Google map and did something that I didn’t realize you could do. She pulled the figure of a man to the street and suddenly we were looking at our home in 3-D just as if we were driving by in a car. It was eerie as we went past our yard and looked right at our front door. The photographer came by last summer, as that is when I had sunflowers growing by the barn. You can turn and scan my view of Farmer Scholl’s field, look down at the road or up at the sun in arch of the sky. You can even see our honey sign!

You can take a ride such as this anywhere in the world that Google has filmed. I have not been to Missouri for twenty some years so I moved the little symbol of a man to the map and rambled the road that drives past the place where we used to live. The appearance of your destination can be greatly enhanced, or not, depending on the day that the photographer passed through.

They caught my Missouri on an overcast day, the trees leafless and bare. In this scene I journeyed past the old home place and found it not only smaller then I remembered, like places from our past so often are, but also empty. I tried to find the lane I lived down as a young bride but I got lost. I clicked out and took my journey to sunnier skies.

Mountains touch the sky in Norway where in my cyber journeys I stay off the highways and travel rural roads. I love visiting places where the architecture is different. In Mexico you can see thatched roofs, in Italy tiled, and there are roofs covered with plants in Switzerland. The garbage-can did not evolve the same everywhere in the world, some places have triangular garbage-cans and others little square boxes.

Everyplace I go my interest in plants remains and I zoom in to see if I can identify the specimens alongside the roads. I wonder if Hawaii has a dry season, as it was not lush as I imagined. There is a tree that grows there that stands like a sentinel on the hills. I wish that I could get a good zoom in on its leaves because I would like to know if it is in the cedar family.

Google should bring along a botanist to label the plants in its outings! It must be Golden Marguerite blooming on the steep mountainsides of a lovely road, which I cannot even believe is a road, it is so narrow, in Italy. I am certain that the trail up a mountain (I am partial to summit views) on the island of Las Palmasde Gran Canaria is lined with the same intense blue lobelia that I buy at Smeltzer’s greenhouse every spring. Amazing to know that there is a place where it grows free and in abundance.

Yet, as much as I cherish nature I start feeling a little bored on my cyber journeys if I have gone a few miles without seeing any signs of my own kind. When I spy a homestead up ahead my attention is awakened. One day I cybered through a village on the Indian sea in a place with flora and fauna very different from what I know and there on a staircase overlooking the water sat a woman with graying hair, a little boy on her lap.

I didn’t have to wonder for one moment what family they were from. On the other side of the world a little boy brings springtime to a woman in her autumn, just like my grandson does to me. Their skin and eyes a darker color, I am sure they speak a different language but are we so different? It seems obvious that our grandmother hearts know the same sorrows and the same joys.

So, I have to tell Gladys that I have traveled a good deal of the world now and I see that there are many places on this beautiful earth, that God made, that I could love. There are places where strange and exotic plants grow but I what I find the most interesting is that everywhere on this whole wide world there are people much like us.

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