Recently we traveled far, far west of the Shire,
heading toward the middle part of the United States.
It is a long drive, but it isn't boring.
From earth to sky, hill to vale,
there is always something to see as the miles go by.
I especially like experiencing the rise and fall of the land from east to west.
Starting out from the Shire we are in the coastal plain, the flat land of Virginia,
which is only a few feet above sea level.
The only way to get a bird's eye view of the land
is to travel across a drawbridge or drive onto an interstate fly-over.
But once we get to Richmond, we cross the fall line of the James River
and begin our ascent into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Yes, they really do look blue, and the views are panoramic.
Through West Virginia, we're driving up, up, up.
Then west of Huntington, we drive down, down, down.
Across the green of Kentucky horse country, across southern Indiana
from the bluffs of the Ohio River to the flats west of Evansville,
the elevation of the land declines gently and steadily.
And when we get to the farmlands of southern Illinois,
we are back in the lowest and flattest stretch of ground.
Since there are few trees, the land reaches out to an endless horizon.
And it was on our return trip,
somewhere between the Illinois farmlands
and the start of the rise into the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana,
I noticed the foxtails.
Foxtail photo compliments of MorgueFile.com
Thousands of foxtails, covered with a light dew,
sparkled in the early morning sun.
Viewed from a distance, the details of their leaves and bushy seed heads were lost
as they blended into long stretches of color.
Sometimes they appeared pale gold, sometimes silver,
other times like clouds of ivory with undertones of green.
Somehow they had escaped my notice on the trip west.
But turning east, I found myself at the center,
viewing elements as they converged in time and space
to create an image brighter and longer-lasting than any watercolor landscape.
And that's not at all boring.
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