AMERICAN PASTORAL – FISH IN SPACE

For me New York is theatre. You are either on stage, performing, or you are in the audience, watching. Either way the theatre is packed elbow to elbow and the only way out is physical relocation. I had planned my escape from New York for months before arriving in Manhattan for a brisk few days’ work. I would fly to Wyoming and ride a horse into the Winds Mountains and fish in remote lakes and rivers; then a few days with friends in Livingston Montana before a week at a smart Orvis lodge. And to end the five-week adventure, ten days on the shores of the Puget Sound, fishing for wild specimens in the salt.

The foreigner’s vision of New York is a cathedral of skyscrapers spires against a boundless sky and the Statue of Liberty somewhere in the vista. But down at ground level it’s a less majestic sight, of a modern mega city choking itself with traffic and construction, horns honking, of unashamed wealth moving between the spires by helicopter and the homeless pushing supermarket carts from alley to alley. And everywhere movement, motion, crowds. The sense of purpose of people waiting at the traffic lights is almost tangible. It’s a city that feels driven.

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My favourite New York cafe.

Suddenly it was three in the morning on September 1. The day of escape had arrived. New York has a slightly different feel, of a theatre between the evening performance and the matinee, when you see it without makeup in the early morning, bouncing and bucking along roads to the airport in a yellow cab with an Ethiopian driver. Potholes in New York? You betcha. The homeless are getting yesterday’s leftovers from Dunkin Donuts before the day’s customers arrive.

Landing in Jackson was like taking a languid scented shower after a sweaty day of hustle and hassle rendering Caesar his dues in New York. Mountains, sky, space, vast open fields and plains, air that demanded to be tasted, not only breathed. The Teton National Park doesn’t get the fame that Wyoming Yellowstone does, but I don’t know why.

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The view from the Manhattan window where I was working

America has 59 National parks under the Ministry of the Interior. President Ulysses S. Grant created Yellowstone in 1872. Today, a total of 84.9 million acres has been designated national park land, approximately 3.6% of all land in the United States. Of the 84.9 million acres, 55 million are in Alaska. Wilderness has its place in the American dream.

To be continued!

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