Oklahoma is lovely, just like the classic musical portrays it, but a planar place like Oklahoma can be tricky to navigate for a mountain girl. I’m already directionally impaired, so driving haphazardly around a strange city in a rental car without any mountains to orient myself makes me as conspicuous a tourist as the Hawaiian shirt and camera-around-the-neck guy.
I love living in the mountains. Sure, the open spaces and endless skies of the plains are alluring, but for me it just doesn’t compare to mountain grandeur. And we’re completely surrounded in Cache Valley, like a big geographical hug from Mother Nature.
While in Oklahoma, people asked where I was from—since I didn’t speak with two-syllable vowels they could tell I wasn’t local. I just said I was from northern Utah, figuring they probably wouldn’t know Cache Valley. Most of them assumed the Salt Lake area, but I quickly clarified, “No, no, where I live is more north and much more charming.” Then I would offer proof of the mountain paradise I hail from by whipping out my cell phone to show the recent shots I’d taken of my quaint country house set against the Wellsville mountains adorned in fall regalia.
Oh yeah. They were impressed.
But after seeing my sweet set-up they’d get a little self-conscious about their very horizontal geography and feel a sudden need to rave about “elevation.” They’d say things like, “Where we live has some ‘elevation’ nearby,” and, “If you look out yonder you can see a piece of ‘elevation.’” Since there are no mountains there, apparently elevation of any kind is celebrated.
At least these Oakies were realists. Years ago I met a Texas rancher who was completely geographically delusional. My hubby and I found ourselves standing with him out in no-mans-land Texas because he’d commissioned Jason to do a painting of his ranch. He’d driven us out to the far reaches of his 150 acres to show us the crown jewel of this property—his “mountain.” He wanted to make sure it was represented in the painting landscape. We stood out in the blazing Texas heat and swirling dust squinting into the sun trying to see what he was pointing at so proudly. We couldn’t see anything that resembled a mountain, or a hill even.
Apparently our searching gazes made him anxious. “It’s right there in Texas daylight, folks! My mountain rises over 200 feet from the 400-foot elevation we’re standing on!” We didn’t have the heart to tell him the reason we struggled to identify his “mountain” was because we have 9000-foot-elevation peaks out our back door.
Jason painted this proud Texan’s “mountain” and he hung the piece over his mantle. I don’t blame him for being proud of his mountain. I’m proud of my mountains too. I don’t actually own them, but I like to think they’re mine.
Plain-dwellers do have one thing on us though. When I showed my braggy pics to a lifelong Texan he said, “Yeah, it’s purty, but talk to me about your winters.”
There are trade-offs.