Seeing the sights

Tallgrass and Tumbleweeds

Dear Readers, I never tire of looking up when an iconic cloudless and azure Kansas sky seals the firmament Tupperware lid tight to terra firma. I equally enjoy the less renowned grey hues of cloud quilts, though I confess that on overcast days my eyes are less likely to gaze up toward the heavens. That’s because the earth I behold is bathed in an enchanting glow. Mother Nature’s puffy filter of the sun’s glare makes its rays easy on the eyes and in that soft light, it seems like I can see MORE.

Perhaps that’s why I find road trips more enjoyable on darker days. I DO like the sun even when it’s brassy. But I prefer a traveling companion who’s a little more laid back. So when clouds and intermittent rain were my mate one afternoon for 240 miles, I had no complaint. Since I moved back to Kansas three and a half years ago I’ve made this trek at least 25 times. I can’t drive it with my eyes closed but I know these miles “like the back of my hand.” Before this week’s drive I would have taken umbrage at the slightest suggestion there was any anything along these Kansas highways that I had not seen. But on this trip everywhere I looked I saw something NEW.

Completely unrelated to lighting conditions, “newness” is apparent this time of year and of course, “change” is a constant regardless of the weather. Even with those factors added to the equation that my driver eyes must stay focused on the road, my never seeing some things before doesn’t quite add up. And I was taken aback how many things have escaped my peripheral view. Like the blown-out Sonic sign. That’s been that way I’m told “for over a year.” That old stone barn has been there all along? Go figure that! And those bullet holes in that Stop Sign, too!

I was not convinced that weather conditions were due all the credit for my enhanced eyesight. I MUST have made this trip before on at least one or two overcast days, though I was unable to match my previous sojourns with memories of particular skies or lighting conditions. And then hit it me just how little I know about how my eyes WORK. When I went to learn about that, I was shocked to learn how HARD my eyes work. Experts disagree on exactly how many images our eyes see each day but there is a consensus that most humans see 30 to 60 images every waking SECOND, which means we see between 1.7 to 3.4 MILLION SIGHTS in a 16 hour day. No wonder our eyelids are heavy at night. Our eyeballs are plum worn out!

It is humbling to know I notice only a fraction of what my eyes see, whether I’m looking up or just gazing around.

Until next week— keep your eyes on the stars and your back to the wind.