Essays About

The Plains

I never knew how vast the sky was till I drove across the Great Plains. On the East Coast, the sky is an irregular blue shape between rooftops and oak branches; in Kansas it is half the world. Beneath the sky are 360 degrees of ways to go, without so much as a hedge to hinder your progress. Yet instead of feeling free, I felt trapped by such boundless acreage. Surveying the fields, there is nowhere to go, because there is nowhere different to go. Drive a mile, and you find yourself in exactly the same location. Where do locals go to enjoy a picnic? How could they possibly choose? There are no clearings in the woods or pleasant overlooks to make you want to park your wagons here instead of there, only an infinity of equivalent spots. Mountains, coastlines, cities, and forests, which elsewhere create borders that turn land into locales, are missing from America's middle. Equidistant from the Atlantic and Pacific, the Appalachians and Rockies, New York and California, the Plains are the midpoint of everything, yet a thousand miles from anything.