Friday, August 26, 2005

In the Eyes of the Beholder

Every aspect of our lives is subjective. Everything we see, hear, touch, smell or feel must be filtered through our experience, knowledge, memory and mysterious preferences before we can say much of anything about it. This goes a long way toward understanding the classic phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

I was thinking about the concept of beauty as I left behind for a day the lush greenness of the Willamette Valley for the dry brownness of East Central Oregon. Actually, brown is not the only color I encountered in Gilliam and Sherman Counties. As I drove on seldom-used secondary highways – I passed 4 cars and 12 homes in an almost 40 mile stretch -- I tried to catalogue the various colors I saw: brown (rocks), gray (rocks and the silt-based soil), pale khaki green (sagebrush), green (a few trees here and there) and yellow (harvested wheat fields).

When comparing this limited array of color with what is found year round in Western Oregon, one could easily refer to it as ugly. Yet, despite the fact the spectrum of color is limited, it holds a quiet and peaceful beauty of its own.

In a manner of speaking, the array of each color scheme offers an apt description of these two different ecosystems. In Western Oregon, there are scads of people and everything seems to be moving at a fast pace.

East Central Oregon is far more subtle. There are few people (in some areas less than 2 persons per square mile!) and life moves at a far slower pace.

Because we Westerners are moving about in a frenzy, we need an environment with colors and hues that jump out at us, a “hey, look at me” approach. As we whiz down I-5 or Highway 101, the vibrant reds, blues, oranges and purples of the local flora are caught in our peripheral vision and enjoyed in an ephemeral instant.

Were it not for the spectacular splash of color, we might miss the pageant altogether!!

In a land of an endless sky and peaceful silence, we don’t need to be hit over the head. We have the time to drink in the pale variations and to contemplate the hues of the season.


  1. Trey--

    That was very poetic. There's a song lyric in there somewhere.

  2. Makes me long for a trip to Wakeeney in Trego County

  3. Are you from Oregon too? Western Oregon and Western Washington are paradise. I can't believe I ever left.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.