Seek Not Afar for Beauty – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
I have a deep appreciation for all things lovely. That being said, it pained me growing up that all the prettiest things in town were the Styrofoam facades on the front of the hardware stores. Plural.
In former summers, I was free to take road trips to prettier parts of the state, travel to Stillwater with touring choirs, and go absolutely anywhere that was nicer than Roseau, Minnesota. This included travel blogs that seeped wanderlust into my bloodstream with every clicked picture of towering redwoods and misty mountains and a whole host of things nowhere near my lonely little hometown.
Finally, when I was seventeen left the continent to see my first mountains in Britain and Ireland. My little soul, reared in a flyover state landlocked by cornfields ten miles south of the Canadian border, was enthralled with the unfailingly lovely Old World, that even in the middle of town refused to lie flat, spilling its vegetation onto stone walls and overflowing iron gates and thatched roofs with flowering plants. Cobbled little towns were full of cathedrals built before minimalism overtook our increasingly industrial species. Rolling mountainsides full of sheep and heather seared themselves into the backs of my eyelids, and bits of my heart fell like breadcrumbs the farther the return plane got from the Emerald Isle.
I realize, now, how farsighted this was. John Green, one of my favorite writers and people, was once showing his two-year-old son the way way a fog shrouded a valley in mist, cozying into the trees like a pearly flood in the early morning light. A two-year-old was much more interested in a nearby leaf. While initially frustrated, he looked down and realized all the little fractaled veins in the autumn leaf that had fallen mid-change so it was now a perfect fade from bright orange to a dull green. The level of beauty one experiences, even one from a little gas-station town like mine, lies not with how far you travel, but how closely you look.
Now, when I drive through town, I see the little nooks that previously escaped my notice. Our neighborhood coffee and brunch place is cute. We have many a wooded park. The local greenhouse sells clocks and wind chimes and all the fixings of an old-world-esque garden. Not only all this, but my own yard is a secluded wonderland of wooded nooks and tiny fractals that previously escaped my notice. The inside of my house, at certain times of the day, was filled with a golden light that, impossibly, made the darkest corners glow with a knowing satisfaction.
I still would rather be most other places than Roseau. I’m still an aspiring world traveler with a growing list of cathedrals to see and mountains to hike. But when an exhausting job keeps my summer skin shackled to this scrappy bit of real estate, leaving the travel blogs at home and exploring your own yard, I find, is an acceptable substitute. Go not abroad for happiness, for see a flow’r at thy door.
Jemma serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu