From the top of Pike's Peak, according to the inspiration behind "America the Beautiful", a person can see from sea to shining sea across the beautiful land that is America. Today, this 4th of July in 2007, we handful of bloggers have launched the Pike's Peak Project to give a view of America in word and photograph that does truly stretch from sea to shining sea.
This project began as a tribute to my brother, Dan, who passed away just over two years ago. Dan loved America, the view from Pike's Peak, and the song that lies at the foundation of this project. If you could sit down with Dan today and tell him what you find beautiful in your piece of America, he would take the time to listen and he would be genuinely interested. He would see the beauty you see, his face would brighten into a very specific "Dan" smile. You would feel that whatever it is you love about your piece of this land or America in general was truly appreciated and validated through his friendly eyes and jolly smile.
If I could tell Dan today what I find most beautiful about Western New York my focus would be on the barns standing sentinel over ... amber waves of grain.
I would tell him, "Dan, I never would have thought there would be such farmland and such barns in the state of New York as I have found since I came to live here." I would have to tell him that I am entirely in love with this state of New York, and with Western New York in particular. Each time we drive any place at all, we see barns. Barns of every size and state of repair.
Grand old barns, immense in size, gently falling to their knees from age and weather. Small, quaint barns both neat and tidy and worn and disheveled. Some are quite old and burdened by their load of time and wear, but when I see them I feel reassured because through years and generations and seasons beyond my meager life, these barns have stood silently supporting the men and women before me in this little part of the world. These barns have stood as guardians through the endeavors, mistakes, hopes, losses, and dreams of the people who loved and worked this land. They gave dependable shelter to seed, livestock, feed, tools ... even sleepy or exhausted human beings at times.
And even now when their boards and beams fail them, they continue to stand as best they can, and they will continue to do so. These barns of Western New York exemplify the best of the human spirit to me. They hold within their airy walls many ghosts and visions of times past, of struggles and successes of varying degrees with as always present persistence to continue the course come what may. When I gaze upon our barns, I see much more than the temporary material vision of today's view. I see vignettes of times and people past at happy, productive moments in their lives and in the life of this land.
The barns of America stretch from sea to shining sea, giving us a continuity of life gone by as well as life that is today being created. Whether those barns are new and well kept or tired and fading, they are an essential element of our heritage and livelihood. Like the tiny, fledgling yet tenacious grasp of an up and coming gourd plant these barns hold our hopes and dreams with a firmness and determination that belies their sometimes fragile stance.
These barns, they do us proud.
That's what I would say to Dan today about my piece of America.
In response, he would smile through sparkling eyes.
Continue your tour by clicking any direction before to find another blogger participating in the Pike's Peak Project.