Bill Bryson spent many years living in England, so many that he felt the call to reconnect with his native America, a call he answered by driving across 38 states out of 50. He visited the two Oceans, the mountains, prairies and deserts, until he crossed the border into his home state. A book worth looking out for, an interesting insight into America in its many guises.
It was wonderful to be back to the Midwest, the rolling hills and rich black earth … I passed back into Iowa. As if on cue, the sun emerged from the clouds. A swift band of golden light swept over the fields and made everything instantly warm and springlike. Every farm looked tidy and fruitful. Every little farm looked clean and friendly. I drove on spellbound, unable to get over how striking the landscape was. There was nothing much to it, just rolling fields, but every colour was deep and vivid: the blue sky, the white clouds, the red barns, the chocolate fields. I felt as if I had never seen it before. I had no idea Iowa could be so beautiful.*
Marie Curie said that the present moment is a state of grace, and so it proved for Bill Bryson when the sun came out. But all those moments he documented when his pilgrimage took him through inhospitable landscapes and inhospitable towns, motels and diners, they too were moments of grace – at least when seen in hindsight.
This pilgrim’s progress brought him home. May we be grateful for our holidays and thankful to be able to come home among family and friends. And may we all meet merrily in heaven when our journey is done.
- Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent, Travels in Small Town America, New York, HarperCollins, 1989.