Recently, our family took a daytrip down to visit some friends who live near the town of Nerstrand, MN about an hour outside of the Twin Cities. When I first moved to Minnesota, I was struck by the fact that people here always give you directions in north, south, east or west – as in “Go two blocks north and then turn west”. I had never before used the cardinal directions as a point of reference, so this was confusing to me at first. But I soon discovered that it makes sense in a Plains state where you can actually see the horizon. It becomes only natural to use the horizon and the sun’s relation to it as a frame of reference, a way of understanding the natural order of the world. When I took this picture, for example, I knew that I was facing north because it was afternoon and the sun was clearly in the west.
We happened to visit the country on a glorious fall day. The kids rode the horses (and pony) through the fields and down the road to an old graveyard that is populated by German and Norwegian immigrants to the area who settled here beginning in the 1850s. Some of the gravestones were so old that the carved names and dates had been all but erased by the elements. Others were propped against a birch tree. Having lost all connection to the graves that they once marked, they now appeared to gaze out beyond trees and fields and farms to whatever lies beyond the horizon.
It reminded me of the melancholy, nostalgic-sounding song Beyond The Horizon by Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan.
Beyond the horizon, behind the sun
At the end of the rainbow life has only begun
In the long hours of twilight ‘neath the stardust above
Beyond the horizon it is easy to love
My wretched heart’s pounding
I felt an angel’s kiss
My memories are drowning
In mortal bliss
Beyond the horizon, in the Springtime or Fall
Love waits forever for one and for all
Beyond the horizon across the divide
‘Round about midnight, we’ll be on the same side
Down in the valley the water runs cold
Beyond the horizon someone prayed for your soul
I’m touched with desire
What don’t I do?
I’ll throw the logs on the fire
I’ll build my world around you
Beyond the horizon, at the end of the game
Every step that you take, I’m walking the same
Beyond the horizon the night winds blow
The theme of a melody from many moons ago
The bells of St. Mary, how sweetly they chime
Beyond the horizon I found you just in time
It’s dark and it’s dreary
I ponder in vain
I’m weakened, I’m weary
My repentance is plain
Beyond the horizon o’er the treacherous sea
I still can’t believe that you’ve set aside your love for me
Beyond the horizon, ‘neath crimson skies
In the soft light of morning I’ll follow you with my eyes
Through countries and kingdoms and temples of stone
Beyond the horizon right down to the bone
It’s late in the season
Never knew, never cared
Whatever the reason
Someone’s life has been spared
Beyond the horizon the sky is so blue
I’ve got more than a lifetime to live lovin’ you
(If you don’t know the tune, you can listen here)
This post is a response to Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon.
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