(Very) distant sunset

Before coming to this Keystone State of Pennsylvania we were Hoosiers, living in Indiana, for nearly a decade. This past Holiday weekend provided an overdue and welcome opportunity to visit our very best of friends back there. Although I had great plans to turn the trip into a bit of a photo-excursion, the weather was entirely uncooperative and even provided us with a wet, snowy, and very slow, trip home. That being said we did dash out late on Friday to take a look at a nearby wind farm. As I was photographing the massive generators I was struck, as I turned to watch the sunset behind me, that the horizon was so very far away. As I sit to write this post I am looking out the bay window of our kitchen and observe that my Pennsylvania horizon is formed by the surrounding hilltops not more than a half mile away. Indiana’s unobstructed landscape pushes its horizons to five, to ten, and even fifteen miles. This gives a very different feel to the environment. At the time of its settlement nearly 90 percent of the state of Indiana was forested. The woods were then cleared, except for scattered bits of unproductive land, for the purposes of development and especially for farming. Today, there are an estimated 4 million acres of forested land remaining in the state, just 15 percent of its land base. As one drives along Indiana’s highways the land is flat and the landscape is made up of vast expanses of intensively managed crop land. Although only a small bit of the west-central part of the state is considered part of the great plains, the environment is no less open. Its vast expanses are regularly divided by neatly arranged roads and, to a first approximation, little else save simple homes and equipment sheds. This country is very large, and very different from coast-to-coast, indeed.

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