The Landscape of Place
By Bruce Reichert
There's a school of thought that argues that landscape is destiny, that Idaho's landscape and the sense of place that it provides, influences us all.
Idaho's landscape is indeed a romantic's landscape, and one definitely not for the timid. There are stunning scenes of enchantment that can take your breath away and make you wish you could live forever in their presence.
So much of what we appreciate about this state is the product of intense heat and pressure, a symphony of colliding tectonic plates directly under Idaho. It's a story of molten lava slowly cooling in the fullness of time, of granite plutons finally revealing themselves with stately perfection.
Just about everything that can rain down upon a landscape has occurred here, in this transition zone between the Pacific Ocean and the great plains.
Forged millions of years ago in a cauldron of fire, it was a glacier of ice that sculpted valleys in the north and left mountains chiseled like the teeth of a saw.
It was colossal wind storms from the west, over tens of thousands of years, that transported silt to the Palouse near Moscow, creating a land of unparalleled richness.
And it was the draining of massive lake Idaho that left the rivers of the Owyhees high above the lake basin, thus speeding up the erosion and creating those astonishing canyons.
But Idaho has been mellowing with age. Gone are the fierce floods of 15,000 years ago, the Bonneville flood that uprooted rocks and carved a falls higher than Niagara. Gone also the Missoula floods that tore through northern Idaho, leaving their indelible mark at places like 1200 foot deep Lake Pend Oreille.
Yes, the land has mellowed. Once a series of volcanoes, southern Idaho's Snake River plain is now a bed for famous potatoes and other valuable crops.
We have certainly learned to work our magic, to exert our will on this land. But this big unruly landscape exerts its will on us as well, and grounding us in the process.
It is good to feel connected to a place, to feel its embrace, to feel we can build a sense of community amidst this landscape of wonders, with its touch of romance, mystery and myth. Beautiful, bewitching Idaho. Esto Perpetua. May she live forever.