Rendered Fat Content


"… keep the roads clearer for those of us who come here for the reveals."

Top a hill or round a bend and experience another reveal. Driving across Nebraska, off the Interstate, produces a recursive kinescope of the state. Each hill, every damned turn and twist in the road, reveals a similar yet quite different perspective. I feel as if I'm delving ever deeper into what those who observe while flying over from thirty six thousand feet see as simply flat. True, with the exception of Scott's Bluff, nothing but ghostly grain elevators loom against any horizon here. Quite false that the country is flat, or even seriously flat-ish, for it rolls and seems to swirl as we top another hill and round yet another bend.

Difference, those of us blessed or cursed to have been raised in mountain country, seems to require altogether much more drama than it actually needs.
No snow-capped peak need frame any panorama, though those of us spoiled by their proximity might never suspect. We go in search of ever bigger and equate more dramatic as somehow better, but subtler variations exist which seem, now that we're here, capable of providing every bit as much spiritual satisfaction as do looming features. We round another bend to find a feedlot and a cattle urine pond, not anything anyone would ever think to include in the travel brochure. We top the next hill to find a small herd of cattle gleaning a cornfield before planting begins. Salt cedars spot an otherwise bare and sandy hillside before another turn reveals a lush landscape worthy of any impressionist painter's brush.

The sky, likewise, refuses to lie flat. It features cloud life in every imaginable form, from swirling threat to billowing reassurance. It feels like God's Country at ground level. The towns feature century-old brick and a Cenex shop, the farm supply appearing the newest and most prosperous place. Churches sprout steeples and well-kept lawns. The road, seemingly never-ending, just goes on and on producing variety of a subtlety few places on this earth can even hope to match. The Muse speaks in frustration at the current fixation on producing smart cities, noting that thirty percent of the population will continue to live in rural America. What about smart country, she asks? How will these folks ever be able to leverage electric car technology? It's a long way between high voltage electrical outlets out here.

The vehicles are Fords and Dodges, at least half, working pickups. The cars are likewise large and spotted with mud, scraped and dented from navigating narrow tracks between backdoors and county roads. There is little hubris evident here. The people do not seem to count their blessings with extravagant displays of wealth. I suspect that a few winters here could beat any urge toward conspicuous consumption right out of a person. The bartender says that he came back home after escaping from his small town to attend college. He traveled the world, he claims, before settling down back here to raise his kids. He doesn't seem to belong in company with bedraggled-looking "workers" still in their safety vests and hard hats ordering clear beers and cranberry vodkas. He's the object of their quiet, eye-shifting humor. They know he's an oddball, too, altogether too dramatic for such subtle country.

The menus says that if I can't love the ancho-apricot sauce on the pork chop in three bites, they'll give it to me for free. I order the entree without the challenge, please, and after sampling the dish suggest that anyone who finds fault in it should be chased out of the place with a stick and told to find their supper at Taco John's. The desk clerk likes the image. "Yea," she agrees, "sticks." But the self-effacing premise persists. Different isn't necessarily appreciated here, anticipated as perhaps worthy of punishment, the gravest of which might be banishment from this subtly beautiful place. I realized as we enter our destination that we were driving a Subaru. I hadn't seen another in hours. We were also wearing sensible shoes and the car features a Colorado license plate. We're obviously not from around here. Not from here, but of here, after all, I muse. Anyone who can't appreciate the place should go somewhere else or simply fly over it at thirty six thousand feet and keep the roads clearer for those of us who come here for the reveals.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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