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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: A changed perspective

© Another Day in the Country

My body is still adjusting to the time change, waking up at odd hours in the morning, squinting to see the clock, wondering if it’s time to get up.

In the early morning gloom, I opened one eye. I could see my cat sitting there patiently by the side of the bed. She was obviously adjusting to the time change, too. I could just make out her ears and the top of her head in the dark room.

Isn’t it funny, I mused to myself, still half asleep, how we identify things by their shape. The top of Skeeter’s head that I viewed through a half-opened eye could be something else — it was all shadows.

Right about then I felt Skeeter jump up on the other side of the bed. There’s only one cat in the house. Logic tells me that if Skeeter is on the end of the bed, what I’m viewing through the slit in the covers is not the top of the cat’s head. I opened both eyes. It was the toes of my tossed-over snow boots that I saw through my skewed perspective.

Perspective is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, what with the recent elections and all. It has been my perspective, for instance, that my Democratic vote didn’t count at all in Kansas, that every time I cast my ballot since returning to the middle of the country, I was just wasting my energy. However, that perspective has changed. We’ve managed to elect a Democratic governor.

I try to teach the concept of perspective to my students, grades three through five, in my art classes at Centre Elementary. Perspective is a big word for them and we just scratch the surface of the concept. For them, perspective is at its beginning stage of “near versus far.”

“This is one of the ways an artist shows perspective,” I tell them. “Objects that are close to us are bigger. Things that are far away are smaller.”

What they don’t know is that perspective is a really complicated subject.

The perspective I had, squinting with one eye into the early morning gloom at what I thought was the cat, was skewed. I had to open both eyes before I could see things clearly. A little early-morning enlightenment also helped.

I’m sure there is something weighty for us to glean from that insight — the need for open eyes and new information — and it will come to me eventually.

My perspective has also been jolted recently with the arrival of the wind farm project in Marion County. I remember when I first heard about what was coming.

“Will they be close to Ramona?” I asked.

“Probably within a couple miles of town,” they said.

And I imagined one of those big majestic machines on the horizon.

“The first ones to go up will be testers,” they went on. “A few, to see what kind of electricity they’ll produce.”

I imagined a handful of windmills now clustered on that same horizon.

Needless to say, reality has begun to set in. My perspective, while still positive because I know we all need and want electricity and this is the most environmentally-friendly way to get it, has had to shift. A windmill a “mile or two” out of town looks like it’s on my doorstep. When I walk down Ramona’s main street, I don’t see the horizon line. I see a gigantic windmill.

I’m having to learn new visual cues about how near and how far away these new landmarks appear to be. The water tower that used to tell me my turn was coming up, off of Highway 15 on my way to Tampa, fades into insignificance as a blip on the horizon when compared to the new windmills.

“I better slow down,” I say. “My turn is coming.”

“It’s a long way off,” my sister laughs as I protest that already I can see the windmills over by Tampa. The size, dwarfing everything else on the prairie in comparison, is staggering.

I’ve been out taking pictures of the windmill progress, but never have I seen one actually going up — until the other night. Jess called on her way home from Marion.

“You want to see the blades on a windmill going up?” she asked, “I’m almost home. Get your coat and meet me outside your house.”

I grabbed my camera and ran out.

Just outside of Ramona, the blades were slowly, slowly, slowly being lifted up for placement on another tower. Close up, looming large by perspectives laws, it came together, while a parade of identical windmills, in textbook perspective, stretched off into the sunset as far as I could see. It was the end of another day, another era, in the country.

Last modified Nov. 20, 2018

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