Bright New World

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Fresh from the old world, our eyes are trained to scan the horizon for castles,

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moats and ruins.  And so we see them everywhere here, in these monuments to times long past: majestic, imposing, not formed by centuries of culture and civilization.  This, the raw new world,

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crude, powerful, instantly recognizable as the land that shaped us.  I can see why Americans feel they can conquer anything, coming from such a land.

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The Kennecott copper mine, nearly a mile deep, man’s largest excavation, visible from space, reflects that drive to dominate our environment.

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In 1906 this was a mountain.  Now the overburden and slag piles from the excavation make new mountains where once there were canyons.

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That line of trucks, traveling across the face of the mine, twenty four hours a day?  Each one is 44 feet tall, just about the height of the tallest buildings in our small town in France.

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And of course the French appreciate good copper as much as anyone.

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We think a lot about France.  Yesterday, as we were picnicking, a man walked by us and said “Bon appétit,” wishing us a pleasant meal.  Nothing more natural in the world, a perfect stranger passing by wishing us bon appétit.  Except, we’re not in France.  Startled, I asked him, in French, why he had said that to us.  “Because you’re eating” he replied.  “But why did you think we speak French?” I asked.  He just shrugged, as if of course everyone speaks French.  Which turned out to be almost true yesterday

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as we kept passing French tourists on the trails of Arches National Park.  Finally I asked a pair of ladies why there were so many French people in the park today, thinking there must be a huge tour group traveling together.  “We were just wondering that ourselves” she said.

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I have to say that speaking French in a place that looks like this gave me a funny colliding -worlds kind of feeling.  But that’s ok, because in fact my worlds are colliding, and it seems only normal that the universe is conspiring to remind me of that.

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Even here, on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, if we squint our eyes and click our heels, we can almost imagine ourselves back in Europe.

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Except that in Europe this would be a Brancusi.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America

5 Comments on “Bright New World”

  1. Nancy Says:

    I’ve often thought that the land shapes the people as well as the people shaping the land. I like the way you express that, like a chemical equation, with arrows going both ways between the two sides.

    Thank you, from a miner, for showing the connection between the mine and the finished product. (Those production trucks really are impressive, aren’t they?) All too often I hear people express a horror of mining, even as they use electricity, machine-made clothing, and copper or steel or aluminum cookware. The copperwares in your photo are gorgeous.

  2. Barry Twyman Says:

    Glad you are safe and sound Guys,Utah looks spectacular , enjoy the company and keep on truckin’

  3. Shaya Says:


  4. Debra Says:

    The red rock is one of the most beautiful places on earth, I am convinced of it! I look at a bottle of the clay colored sand on my bookshelf and am reminded of that amazing time and place. What a unique place to have a wedding!

  5. Lucy Says:

    Wow that is some splendid scenery! What a great way to reacquaint yourselves with home again. Lovely.

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