(I am a sucker for every song written along these lines,
but this is one of my favorites)
I saw tumbleweeds today.
I know, not the revelation you were expecting after watching me drive two thousand miles from where I was born and raised, but I think it was the first time. I’ve seen the movies. I know the iconic symbol of the old west. I am well versed in the metaphorical reference to those self-sufficient, romantically melancholy wanderers. I can hear the whistling music that accompanies the skittering weeds.
But that’s not actually seeing it.
That’s not driving down the road and seeing a tumbleweed fumble its way across to tap the front of your car. It’s not seeing four small tumbleweeds that look like cats’ shadows, slide across the road in a pack, as if they know they’re too small to be taken seriously on their own. And it’s not pulling over for gas, only to realize that that wind tossing tumbleweeds across the world will also push you back into your car when you try to open the door. The air is almost firm enough to lean back against.
And I’ve been watching the landscape flatten out and break into sharper ridges than the rolling hills and mountains we have where I was born, but that tumbleweed wind was the first time I knew for sure what two thousand miles away meant.
Dorothy says, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” I say, “I saw a tumbleweed today.”