How Beautiful?


Thought for the Week

It was my first trip to Winnipeg, deep in the heart of the Canadian prairie. Not everyone in Manitoba lives in Winnipeg, of course—several dozen live in other towns (in Manitoba any building with more than two bathrooms is a “town”). I was slated to guest speak at a community college in the historical Mennonite community of Steinbach. A volunteer chauffer named Hempel picked me up at the airport. Hempel nestled my bags between odd bits of farm equipment in the back of his truck, and said, “All set then. Let’s head’r.” He didn’t speak another word.

I was surprised at the dearth of scenery: barely a hill or tree. Not that it lacked variety. To the contrary, there was wheat, corn, barley, oats…

“Does all of Manitoba look like this?” I asked.

“Oh, no!” Farmer Hempel guffawed. “Up north it’s all mountains and forests and waterfalls and such.”

“Ah,” I replied. “So, it’s—”

“Not pretty like here, no!” Farmer Hempel completed my sentence a tad differently than I would have. And then it struck me: to a dirt-for-blood farmer like Hempel, “pretty” meant flat, featureless land—ready to be plowed!

“No stones or trees to remove?” I asked.

“Oh, yea, no. No such kerfuffle,” he confirmed. And then his eyes moistened as he added, like a man in love, “It’s perfect.”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” as the saying goes. But it never occurred to me till then that:

Our sense of beauty is determined by what we value.

What do you find beautiful and what does it say about you? Does what you value the most need adjusting?

Or is it indeed “perfect”?


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to How Beautiful?

  1. hafong says:

    Welcome to the Prairies. I live in the next province over. We’re deemed flat, too. And it is beautiful – with rolling hills and valleys. Perhaps you can skip over after.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I love this so much. My mom’s family lived on a wheat farm in Kansas. My dad’s family on a dairy farm deep in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I spent more than a little time on both farms growing up and learned to appreciate the distinct beauty of each. And, of course, since my immediate family lived in Southern California, I learned to appreciate the beauty of the ocean and our own more arid mountains. Thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An Audience of One says:

    I love this. Having lived in Saskatchewan as a kid (also a land of prairies), I could just envision the setting. But the meaning behind your post was also beautiful, Mitch. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I grew up in Winnipeg and beauty definitely is in the eye of the beholder. I love to see the bright fields of canola or watch a storm rolling in from miles away. But I can also see how it may look bleak to others. But having said that I now live in Canada’s Rocky Mountains 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. pkadams says:

    I’m at the point where I love all views, except skylines.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    A most interesting insight, Mitch. Your post makes me think a list of “Where I See Beauty” might be an enlightening journal-exercise, IF we take the next step and analyze what the items say about us, AND consider what might need adjusting. Thank you for the idea!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. stolzyblog says:

    When the horizon is far, in all directions, that is its own particular beauty. It feels tangible.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I lived in Winnipeg for a few years and traveled to different parts of Manitoba. Every part is beautiful. Too bad you didn’t see the sunflowers! or the polar bears!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hiking trails are wonderfully diverse and beautiful no matter how muddy, rocky, or trampled and no matter where the trails are blazed-even cities, farmland, and neighborhoods.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never thought of my sense of beauty as being determined by what I value. Something to give serious thought. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting perspective, Mitch. If predictions of food shortages are accurate, I suspect fields if grain may be considered the most beautiful things on earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I visited my brother near Lake Erie years ago. After a few days, I had a sense of unease. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I realized there were no mountains around me. I missed the sense of enclosure they gave me. Fabulous message, Mitch. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jmfayle says:

    Loving your style, Mitch! Enjoyed this a lot.

    I once hard a man from that area of Canada say that if he set his dog loose to run east one day, that he’d still be able to spot him on Day 2, ha ha!

    My value is majorly wrapped up in Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jennie says:

    This is a perfect story, the beauty of the Canadian prairie, and how it is seen through the eyes of the beholder. Love and beauty is everywhere for those who see. Winnipeg is the home of Henry Cole who bought a little bear as he was headed on a train in WWI, and he named him Winnie. Henry and his bear crossed the Atlantic with his Canadian Army regiment. The little bear was very popular with everyone. When they landed in England, Henry knew the little bear could not go with him into combat, so he gave the bear to the London Zoo. A.A. Milne brought his son to the zoo, and his son and Winnie the bear became fast friends. That relationship was what inspired A.A. Milne to write about his son and Winnie the Pooh.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I grew up surrounded by farm country (we were not a farming family, though), and to a farmer, fields rich with crops are as beautiful as it gets! I myself have a preference, though, for “mountains and forests and waterfalls and such.”

    Liked by 1 person

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