By Michael Martone, David Plowden
Essays describe lifestyles in small cities, farming groups, and suburbs in states from Ohio to North Dakota.
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Additional resources for A Place of sense: essays in search of the Midwest
When I tried to imagine something more general in which to include my home's geography, I visualized a dittoed worksheet, a lovely smelling blue outline of a heart-shaped state, crazed into eighty-eight fragments. Memorizing the names and whereabouts of each county was our year-long, fifth-grade project. ) The year before, we had memorized the capital and location of each state in the United States. The year after that, we made a dent in memorizing the rest of the world's countries before Mrs. Gardner permanently snagged, in its overextended position, the world map, one of the blackboard-size rolls suspended beneath the cursive alphabet.
Even though Columbus boasted that it was "Half-a-Day Away from Half the USA," it took us two days of traveling until we, at last, reached Aunt Renee's. It has changed slightly since then, but I named the world after people I knew, places that were inconceivable if the homes of relatives hadn't been there, bigger than the dot or the star beside the city's name on the map. So with a child's sense of the world, we children knew that Aunt Renee's meant Massachusetts "near Norman Rockwell's studio"; Great-grandma's meant Florida, "with a swimming pool not twenty feet from the ocean"; and Cedar Point meant an amusement park that featured in everyone's genealogy.
Here is ground that turns at once into swamp then into sea, each a solid calm surface, beneath them all a slight tilt, a tendency really, a bias so subtle you never notice that you've crossed a line, that you've reached a crisis, that your whole world has changed.
A Place of sense: essays in search of the Midwest by Michael Martone, David Plowden