why i love this american landscape

IWAS REMINDED YESTERDAY WHY I LEFT MY JOB AND THE CITY behind, as I stood, mesmerized, as my hard-working dairy-farmer neighbors turned a hummocky green hillside gold, with one methodical pass after another. The simplest, most traditional images are often the most beautiful, no?–and sometimes provide even more visual relief than a garden.

I could watch this mechanized harvest dance for days, accompanied by the song of tractor engines and the whoosh of the cut fodder-to-be, in this case alfalfa, moving up and out the chute.

What is your favorite glimpse of the American landscape, the one you could stare and stare out into? Does it include water or sky, or a sea of something else? Maybe you’ll be spending part of the holiday weekend in sight of it. Do tell–and enjoy.

  1. I completely agree, Margaret. It’s easy to be mesmerized by views like this.

    I’ve recently fallen for the desert. We just spent a week in the National Parks of Southwestern Utah (Bryce, Zion) and the surrounding areas, and it was absolutely breathtaking. I used to think of the desert as a lifeless void, but after having visited I now realize it is full of animal and plant diversity and particularly in the canyons, you can view up close how the earth has changed over billions of years. It’s really quite humbling.

  2. Cara says:

    Absolutely relate to what you say about the ‘visual relief’ of a landscape stripped down to essentials. Right now my 1st-year perennial garden looks so bitsy-piecey. I spend a lot of time at my computer, facing so that I can gaze into the backyard, surrounded on three sides by woods. I’ve taken down several large trees and a bunch of struggling or misplaced shrubs, and the more I remove, the better I like it. I’m inspired in this by Julie Moir Messervy’s book, The Magic Land, in which she says, “When you have a beautiful piece of land, sometimes the most appropriate thing you can do is simply clean it up.” Also the cheapest:-) Once again, less is more. Enjoy the holiday, Margaret.

  3. Johanna says:

    Beautiful photos, Margaret. Nothing beats farmland to me. I love a field of grain, golden and waving in the breeze, or a forest of cornstalks. The autumn bean field, gold-red in the early morning sunshine. Each reminds me of all the challenges faced by our ancestors, and their triumphs in getting through another season with a full cellar.

    And how about the vegetable gardens at Monticello?! Gorgeous!

  4. Debkb says:

    I love the Black Hills of South Dakota. No matter where you are you see mountains and trees forever. And it doesn’t hurt that if I’m seeing the Black Hills it also means I’m seeing my brother!

  5. Laurie says:

    I also have a hayfield adjoining my land. I love to watch it through the seasons. Dragonflies flitting about, birds, the occasional deer. So lovely when it’s tall & blowing with the breezes.

  6. Sue says:

    I have a beautiful view of hills, trees, and an old dairy farm far in the distance,behind my veggie patch. I could stare at it all day, especially in the fall when the trees change color.

    1. Margaret says:

      @Naseer: The American desert is unimaginably beautiful; so much so that it always makes me cry. I agree completely.

      Welcome, Ren. Happy to provide a vista anytime. :)

      Welcome, Sue. Sounds like we are treated to similar surroundings. Lucky us!

      Welcome, The Galloping Gardener. Glad you like, and yes, agreed — so many beautiful places to see in this country, right?

      Hope to see all of you soon again.

  7. Jayne says:

    An amazing view – and one that is vanishing all too quickly! I grew up in the Hudson Valley on a hill overlooking a former dairy farm. It’s a view that is there no longer. Treasure that view, Margaret!

  8. Andrew R. says:

    I’ve seen this view myself, in 2005, after a walk through your lovely place (it was Open Days, I wasn’t stalking you) and it took my breath away. I’ve traveled to the U.S. many times and each time I go I discover a new, sweeping vista or a small scenic pocket of beauty tucked along a roadside somewhere. It’s impossible to choose one. Still on my Canada Day high (a natural one, to be sure) it’s a pleasure to wish you a very Happy Fourth!

  9. Judy says:

    Here where I live on this island in the northwest, the round hay bales have been appearing all week, dotting the fields. If the farmers are lucky, there may be two harvests this year. But year-round my favorite landscape view is the horizon where the tops of the evergreen conifers meet the everchanging sky. The treeline meets the skyline all around me on this island.

  10. Ailsa says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Visual relief is something I think of and value more and more as I get older. Although I still love those big, deep traditional borders, I can’t seem to separate their beauty from the maintenance I know they require. When I travelled across the country several years ago, people said to me, ” You won’t find anything to see as you cross the prairies. It will be boring.” I couldn’t disagree more! That openness of land and vast expanse of sky was such a pleasure.

  11. Deborah says:

    Our view to the south is down the hill past our apple trees and lower barn, more tree tops, and then a distant hilltop pasture belonging to our neighboring dairy farmer. Late in the day that hill remains lit up by the setting sun while our place is already in the shadows. We love that view, which often includes the neighbor’s grazing cows, minaturized by the distance.

  12. Judy in Kansas says:

    Arrived home after a week traveling the deserts of west Texas and New Mexico, and gaining a new appreciation for those majestic views, to find that our 80 acres had been mowed during our absence. There is nothing to compare with the sight of those massive bales sitting on the golden fields.
    Another magnificant sight…a sprout I’d missed on a crabapple tree loaded down with REAL crabapples, something I’ve looked for for years to make my mom’s crabapple/elderberry jelly. The sprout, of course, came from below the graft and has provided what will be my favorite harvest of the year.

  13. Anne says:

    Oh boy, these photos are gorgeous. My favourite view is the view out of our lounge window at about 10pm …. the sun setting over the Atlantic (I’m on a Scottish island). The sunset is different every night. Peaceful. Majestic. Stormy. Magnificent.
    I love them all.
    We’ve been in your wonderful country twice though, and LOVE it. We’ve just celebrated the 4th of July (albeit on the 2nd!) with other homeschooling families in our home. There are photos on my blog to prove it!
    We’ve never been in the mid-west, which is where we’d love to go if we ever get again. But the farmland in the Amish parts of PA……they were a dream.
    Love, Anne x

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Anne. Scottish island? Love the sound of that. Have been watching a Scottish TV program called “Rebus” with John Hannah the last couple of nights on DVD, so my ear is now tuned to the accent. :) Haven’t been there in many years, but wouldn’t mind a visit again about now. Hope to see you soon again.

  14. Ranchwife says:

    Beautiful photo…even better is to see my son behind two draft horses cutting wheat which he did just a few weeks ago. We could actually have a conversation and hear the birds as I gathered bundles to put into shocks to dry. No diesel smells either….just sweet grassy smells and sweaty horses and leather.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Ranchwife. What a beautiful image you created with your words, thank you. I would love to experience that; lucky you. Hope to see you again soon.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Cris. I used to have a view of the Palisades when I worked int he city and had a rental in Riverdale, the Bronx. Few more beautiful sights. Nice to see you and don’t be a stranger!

  15. Taylor says:

    Thanks for your video, slideshows and garden tour! Love it!! Also love living in Copake. The vistas never cease to awe me — the back roads, Route 22…everywhere. Your blog inspires me and helps me with my own fledgling gardenscapes as I live close to you in this rich land.

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