Sense of Space


Acacia trees under the African sky.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about big things; today, I’m going to write a post about bigger things.

I spent most of my first 33 years in Alaska, 615,230 square miles of mostly open space. Fairbanks, where I lived, is situated in the interior of the state;  the Alaska Range is about 100 miles to the south and the Brooks Range about 200 miles to the north.  Many large, braided rivers, including the Yukon, meander across the space in between the two mountain ranges.  I grew up looking at a lot of sky.

Now, I’ve been to Tanzania and, now, I know what a lot of sky really looks like.  Tanzania only comprises about 365,000 square miles but the skies above those square miles are the biggest I have ever seen and the landscapes beneath them immense.   The effect is staggering.

One day during our safari, I was talking with my traveling companions and I said that a person can’t pack enough superlatives into her vocabulary to do Tanzania justice.  The way the clouds pile up in the sky cries out for some expansive expression of wonderment. The sight of seemingly endless plains punctuated by just a couple of distant acacia trees begs for just the perfect comment.  The gorgeous, green, early morning light on the acacia trees in camp screams out for accurate description as does the splendid, golden, late afternoon light on those same trees.  I don’t know how many times I found myself thinking that “nothing could be more beautiful than this,” only to have some slight shift of light, perspective, or content prove me wrong.

My entire career involved working with words.  I like to think I was good at it and I know I have always loved words.  But, after a while in Tanzania, words failed me.  I had used them all up.  As it happens, that was a good thing because it forced me to just experience what I was seeing and stop trying to describe it.  Sometimes, words get in the way.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Mine aren’t but I include an absurd number for you anyway.  Please note that they are in higgledy piggledy order.

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2 Responses to Sense of Space

  1. Thank you for sharing your Tanzania experience! I’m living vicariously!

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