The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 July 2004

Against the grain

Jamestown, North Dakota 2337.3 miles

Around the end of May I made some noise about someday driving US 52, an odd diagonal route that slashes across the States 45 degrees out of phase. One end of it is in downtown Charleston, South Carolina: in fact, I used to catch the bus after school from where 52 (which was Meeting Street) crossed Calhoun Street. I've driven it as far north as Florence, which isn't any great shakes, but now I've seen the other end, which is on the Canadian border, separating the town of Portal, North Dakota from the town of North Portal, Saskatchewan. There's not much on this side of the border crossing, and there was no activity this Sunday morning. On the other hand, it didn't look like a really good idea to be seen taking pictures of a border crossing, lest Tom Ridge have to dig into his box of Crayolas.

52 angles southeastward through Minot and joins I-94 at Jamestown, which boasts, among other things, the World's Largest Buffalo, constructed in 1959 for some sort of bisontennial celebration. What I didn't find around here was any mention of someone I assumed would have at least some sort of shrine downtown, the late Norma Deloris Egstrom, who reminds you that chicks were born to give you fever, be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade.

And speaking of the latter, of course Canadian radio gives the specifics of the weather report in the metric system; it was a chilly 12 in Estevan this morning, while over here in North Dakota it was an equally chilly 54 following a brief early-morning thunderstorm.

The definition of "early," I suppose, is flexible: sunrise is about 6:10 am in these parts this time of year, about fifteen minutes earlier than what I'm used to. On the other hand, sunset isn't until almost 10 pm.

And if Montana is sporadically wild and woolly, North Dakota is placid. To those people who demand excitement in their lives, it might even be soporific. But I looked at those mostly-green fields today and I found myself wondering: what is it with these people who want to live their lives in some sort of rabid rabbit warren, right on top of one another, constantly on the move? Maybe I'm just getting older, but right now I can appreciate the virtues of a place which isn't going to grow 40 percent maybe not even 4 percent in the next twenty years.

Posted at 4:45 PM to World Tour '04



Posted by: Erica at 9:53 PM on 11 July 2004

Copy that C.G., know exactly what you mean. We make jokes when we go into new neighborhoods and the houses are so close together you can hear the neighbors toilet flush. What is even more peculiar is when people in the country build their house within 2 acres of each other. Country living should be about isolation and privacy.

Posted by: Babs at 4:17 PM on 12 July 2004

People are always surprised to hear that I live in what the demographic types consider to be on the verge of the Inner City, and yet somehow I have a quarter of an acre under my house. Not a whole lot by rural standards, but it's enough of a buffer zone to give me the illusion of a Fortress of Solitude.

There are a couple of new developments around town where the lots are so small that I, admittedly somewhat on the rotund side, literally cannot walk between the fence and the side of the house: there's almost no space at all. This is the price one pays for "affordable housing," I suppose. Still, it's better than slapping oneself into a flat alongside nine other people, seven of whom never sleep.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:54 PM on 12 July 2004