A Postcard from Salt Lake City

By Dr. Pamela Rader, English Department

When I went to visit friends who had moved from the Lower East Side to Salt Lake City, I found myself in a hilly town enveloped by mountains. Out west, the perspective shifts back to the horizon. Streets are wider, and high-rises are limited to a sepia-toned downtown. Back east, unless you’re standing on the beach, the eye is drawn upward, along the vertical axis of skyscrapers and tall, council oaks or ancient sycamores. Always changing, the western skies hold my gaze. I write ‘skies’—because there seems to be so much sky.

The trompe l’oeil of the thick, low hanging clouds gave the impression that one had awakened in the mythical Shangri-La: a hidden community surrounded by mountains. For the first few days, clouds scrolled like illegible sentences, but it was the mountains I wanted to read. Patience. A white vapor-canvas punctured by a ridge here and an escarpment there. The occasional pocket of corn-flower blue. A brief rain shower was followed by stunning bursts of light and Roy G. Biv’s far reaching arch.

Slowly, the peak-laced horizon revealed itself. To the west, the shorter range of the Oquirrh Mountains extended, and the Wasatch Range resembles an archer’s bow, running north-south. Living in the mountains encourages gazing. Subtle hues of fuchsia develop into warm apricot tones before becoming shadows. In the evening light, everything appears to becoming something else.

Photo credit: flickriver.com

Photo credit: flickriver.com


2 thoughts on “A Postcard from Salt Lake City

  1. Toni

    So beautiful and what a neat perspective. This makes me want to grab my cowboy boots and head out West. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Irene Wiener

    What a marvelous description of “The Big Sky.”

    I am a native of Montana who found herself transplanted to New Jersey (via the Army) a long time ago. While there are many lovely things about the Garden State (such as farm-fresh tomatoes picked on October 20th), I have never overcome my constant, nagging sense of slight claustrophobia that first enveloped me when I emerged from the Philly airport in October 1990 in the height of afternoon commuter traffic. It’s not just the traffic or the dense population zones, because I live in a rural-for-NJ area and only have to venture onto I-295 once a week and the Turnpike a few times per year.

    It was only when my sister, a lifelong MT resident and keeper of the ranching tradition, visited me for the first time, that I finally found a description for the “problem”: You can’t see the horizon! Unless you go to the shore (an endeavor fraught for us Inlanders with traffic and expense and really not all that gratifying in the search for wide open spaces unless you hire a fishing trawler–and then you must endure seasickness and the unending sameness of open water in exchange for room to stretch and breathe deeply), trees, historic buildings, signs, shopping malls and who knows what else crowd in upon you no matter where you go.

    I love what all those “impediments to the horizon” contribute, but I still miss the horizon. I miss the ability to look out my window and watch multiple storm fronts dance in the sky. I miss the feeling of being able to really stretch and breathe deeply that one finds out West.


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