I remember the first time I drove through Indiana. It was a clear day. One of this clear days when the sky is cloudless and such a blue you can’t possibly imagine how you could recreate it on canvas. A blue that even a camera cannot duplicate.
On days like that the human eye is able to pick up more than of images than on grey or even cloudy days. But in Indiana, the land is very flat, much flatter than even the flattest parts of Wisconsin. What amazed me on that trip was how far I could see.
The openness of the farm land, particularly the then plowed fields, allowed my eyes to see houses and barns deceptively on the horizon. What I mean is that there was a mirage of distance between myself and the farms creating an openness most people miss in their lives.
There is a reason why many guided meditations ask the listener to think of wide open spaces. They give us a feeling of freedom and bring clarity of mind and spirit.
Some of us have the luck of the draw to be near open bodies of water. I have lived most of my life near enough to Lake Michigan that I have had the luxury to walk to the shore whenever I need to cleanse my minds palate. But if you are not near such a grand expanse, farm fields can give you the same sense of openness.
Urban dwellers can take an elevator (or the stairs if you want the feeling of hiking to the top!) to the top of a high-rise building to look at the sky. A lot of high-rise buildings have a public space on or near the top floor or a restaurant or cocktail bar where you can sit for a lengthy time admiring the view.
In Milwaukee we have both the expanse of the great Lake Michigan and roof top bars and the city is built of the top of a bluff that runs along the majority of the city and much of the way down the coast to Kenosha. There is no shortage of open space as long as you are willing to look east.
For those who want to get out of the city, there are plenty of hilltop views to open your eyes and your mind. Places that will bring poetry to even the most tired of spirits.
Just east of Whitnall park is a ski hill where in off season you can hike to the top via the trails of Whitnall. It offers a grand view of the southwestern Milwaukee suburbs. Filled with trees it is hard to see the filled subdivisions below.
Drive out west toward Madison and you’ll find large rolling hills with acres of State Forest where you can hike all day. Climb to the top of the tower in Lapham peak for an extraordinary sight of the Land O Lakes area of Wisconsin.
If you are in for an over night stay, take I94 to La Cross and try out some hikes along the Mississippi river. You’ll find a long line of open space throughout the area and bluff views you won’t soon forget.
This area is part of what is known as The Driftless Area. True to its name, it is a place to drift and dream about possibilities. There is a reason why artists like to paint in the area. The air has an essence of lightness and clarity.
To the north in the Sheboygan area is the northern unit of The Kettle Moraine Forest and another tower to climb. Drive freely around on the county highways to discover some vast farm lands and roadways making their way through rolling hills intermixed with corn fields and grazing cattle with the occasional llamas and sheep. Turn a corner and you can find yourself in what appears to be an alpine mountain scene.
When you have another couple or more of days to explore, take a drive up to Door County where the open air is abundantly clear. There are 5 state parks in Door county as well as county parks and a plethora of small towns with views of Lake Michigan. Add to that the expansive state and county highways that crisscross the peninsula through farms and orchards with rows upon rows of trees. Door County never disappoints my need for a mind cleanse.
I urge everyone to find open space as often as possible, through your arms out wide and throw away any personal garbage stuck in your heart. Just let it go. If it comes back, it doesn’t mean it is meant to be yours.
Let yourself be free.
Happy days to all,