Thursday, July 11, 2013
The Perfect View: Mount Rainier
Growing up in the particular part of the Pacific Northwest that I hail from, we always had a view of Mount Rainier. Before the trees behind my parents' property grew to cover the view, we'd sit, eating breakfast at the dinner table every morning, staring directly out of the dining room window at the mountain. Our street was named after this view, my elementary school was called Mountain View, and my high school (established in 2000 - I was in the first graduating class), was Emerald Ridge High School. Needless to say, it also had perfect vantage points.
It wasn't until I returned to Paradise (yes, it's really called that) at the base of the mountain with John and his mom last week that I realized how much I took this precious view for granted. I can't remember the last time I saw a pine tree here in England (except for short, dumpy ones at Christmas), let alone a forest full of them, or the spectacular, snowy-covered dome of an active volcano. Here, the landscape is flat, though pretty in its own right, with occasional rolling, green hills in the countryside. The forests do not have conifers that force you to crane your neck in order to squint at the tops. In fact, not too many places in the States can boast of the mountain ranges that we have in Washington.
That mountain has always been there for me; a steady, dependable point in the distance on which I could focus my eyes, almost no matter where I was driving. I always felt indifferent to it, until I returned last week. Even as we caught sight of it a good distance away, it looked majestic: powerful, gleaming, almost. But, in a weird way, almost kind - benevolent.
Perhaps it was the familiarity of the landscape, or the fact that I was really looking at it for the first time, rather than looking through it (the high temperatures and beautiful blue sky also helped), but I suddenly felt a rush of wistfulness, a longing that I hadn't felt for a long time.
This was my home, where I am from - whether I like it or not. And I'm proud of that. I used to always feel the need to hastily add that I went to school in Massachusetts, when people asked which state I was from for fear of being "uncool", but standing there at the base of the mountain that day, I felt proud to be a Washingtonian. We have beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest, and a culture of our own. Just because I've adopted another "scene" over the past six years, doesn't mean I have to let go of this one - not now, not ever.