I will never cease to be astounded and amazed at the diversity in this country … and I’m not referring to race or religion. As I crossed the border from Louisiana to Texas and began the trek into what is called “the West” the landscape has changed. The skies have shifted colors, the creatures that walk and fly and crawl on that same landscape are so very different than what this north-easterner has been accustomed to for so many years. Birds chatter around me in a language I do not know; I walk trails scattered with trees and brush and flowers new to my eyes and nose; little lizards scamper out of the way and things leap & buzz along the path that cause me to stop … unsure whether to be afraid or fascinated. Should I make noise to let them know I’m there, or silently move along? Butterflies and the tiniest flowers I’ve ever seen. Skeletons of buds and seed pods left scorched by the summer sun. Now in the west, everything is small … the buds, the flowers, the leaves. The trees are short and stout. Even the pebbles along the trail are finely honed by years of sun and heat.
But then again, some things are bigger … fossils of large shelled sea creatures and remnants of early tools from long ago dwarf the tiny trilobites and small broken arrowheads I’ve stumbled across in Upstate NY. The states are extensive and the drives are far longer, and getting from point A to point B no longer takes a few hours, but rather a day … or more.
But there is also a diversity to the people and culture that shifts as one crosses these borders, too.There are different words, different accents, different colloquialisms. Different opinions, different politics, different churches dot the town corners. And as I take off my jacket so to enjoy a warm Gulf Coast breeze at night, they tell me there’s a chill in the air and are scrambling to find a winter coat.
Now as I sit down to a table spread with a colorful array of food … new tastes, new smells, new textures … my thoughts not only go to all of the differences that make up mankind and this world, but to the kaleidoscope of colors and distinctions that work together to create each of us in our own uniqueness. It’s as if we are, individually, states on a map … each its own territory … yet all a part of the larger piece. A fragment of humanity, a scrap of the world, an atom of the universe.