Sunday, February 10

Ever since I read Danish author Peter Hoeg’s novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow, I’ve been convinced that the Danish know something about life—some big secret—that they aren’t letting the rest of the world in on. Maybe it has something to do with the sort of landscapes they live in, or the long, introspective darkness of winter, balanced by the endlessly bright days of summer and the northern lights? I have to extend this secret knowledge to all northern-dwelling peoples, Scandinavian, Russian, etc. I have always wanted to live somewhere where the landscape, the weather, the days and nights, would be something surreal compared to the landscapes of Colorado and Idaho, where I have lived all my life. Not that I don’t find certain vistas in Rocky Mountain National Park or the Sawtooths to be awe-inspiring, indeed I think of them while reading Ann Radcliffe’s many dissertations on sublime landscapes in The Mysteries of Udolfo.

I have been all over the west and seen all kinds of mountains and all kinds of plains. I love mountains and love to look at them. I still resent a comment a friend made to me once on a drive to Salmon, when she rhapsodized about a particular farming valley in the mountains near Challis or Clayton. I said, “It’s okay I guess,” and her response was, “Well. I guess landscapes just don’t affect you the way they affect me.” I bristle every time I think about this conversation. What I wanted to tell her was this: when you’ve grown up on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park, you ain’t gonna get excited over every little mountain or valley in Idaho. I suspect she—who has backpacked all over the Frank Church Wilderness and worked as a ranger all over the Salmon River wilderness—would probably feel similarly jaded about landscapes in Colorado.

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