Icebergs and Whales
I romanticize the dramatic cliff faces and crashing waves of the Atlantic coast the same way many easterners dream of endless desert and snow-covered mountains.
It’s been that way as along as I can remember. It’s a landscape I long to see and at the same time know nothing about. I used to daydream about quaint fishing villages connected by narrow, winding roads that meander through emerald green fields. In my mind I would ride between them on a cruiser with a basket on the front filled with flowers and a baguette.
And so for months, I dreamt of cliffs and waves as I got ready for a trip to Newfoundland. It’s the farthest east place in North America, closer to London than western Canada. It has icebergs and whales, brightly-colored fishing villages and narrow-winding roads.
I wasn’t disappointed.
So I logged the images away in my mind as we traveled, thinking about what life would be like in these tiny places, how unforgettable it must be to wake up to such a spectacular landscape every day.
At dinner one night a server in her early 20s asked if we’d seen any icebergs yet. We hadn’t, we told her, but it was one of the goals of the trip.
“Oh, they come by all the time,” she said.
Frequently enough, apparently, it’s “like seeing another tree,” and so she’s stopped paying attention.
She was from a picturesque town down the road from the pocket-sized village we were eating in. Dramatic cliffs and crashing waves were her normal. What did she long for?
To go to the U.S. To see where we were from. To be somewhere else.
I wanted to tell her where she lived was incredibly unique, much more so than where we were from. All we have are mountains and bison and rivers and carefully carved canyons formed over tens of thousands of years. I wanted to downplay home, but I couldn’t.
Because it is spectacular here, just as it was there.
I rarely take the West for granted. My cameras are full of pictures of wildlife, flowers and untouched landscapes, and I spend hours each day talking with Miriam about the clouds, trees, deer or pronghorn. I’m still struck by how the prairie colors are richest before dark.
But sometimes it’s worth going to that place you always wanted to see to realize your home is also the place of dreams.
- Christine Peterson