“This Land is Your Land…”

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence

These classic lyrics played in my mind as I sat next to my husband who was driving our RV cross-country, while my two youngest daughters napped in the back. We were on our way to meet up with our oldest two in Denver, spend a few days in the Rockies and then move my youngest into her dorm to begin life at UC Boulder. As we journeyed, the landscape slowly morphed from flat and green cornfields in Iowa and Nebraska to the rolling terrain of pastures in Colorado, followed by the majestic Rockies. To me, an immigrant from a small Mediterranean country, the scope and magnitude of this land are astounding.

This election season is heating up and turns distasteful at times. By contrast, the sheer pleasantness of the people we encountered along the way was genuinely heartwarming. There was the cashier at Subway in Whitehall, Montana, who, with wonder in her eyes, excused herself for a minute in order to take a picture of the blazing sunset over highway 90. There was the cheerful and smiling attendant at the gas station in Big Timber, Montana who at 6am, bright and early, wished us a pleasant and safe drive. The knowledgeable and informative cashier at 2 Sisters in McCall, Idaho, educated me about the local microbreweries with wit and charm. Truck drivers lifted a hand in a cheery salute while on the road and the truck stop in Little America, Wyoming was a marvelous surprise in the middle of nowhere – literally…

The unexpected aspect of this 3600-mile long road trip is a renewed appreciation for the beauty of this land and its grandeur. But more importantly, we all gained knowledge of our country’s complexity and the generosity of its people; the cattle ranches in Colorado and the free spirit artists in Boulder, the mosaic of Boise, Idaho - High Tech, progressive thinkers and strong conservative forces, Wyoming’s refineries and cattle ranches, Montana’s fishing and hunting culture and beautiful landscape. As we drove along picturesque side roads, the image of a quilt came to mind. Rather than thinking of our country as a melting pot – how about a quilt: each patch preserving its integrity and uniqueness, yet coming together to create a beautiful blanket of warmth, color and tradition? 

“This land is your land, this land is my land…”