… Not quite back to the red clay of our Alabama childhood, after decades amidst the thick black Midwestern loam, but to land more like it. A lighter tan soil, reddish in places. Occasionally deep orange, ferrous. More exposed rock, with greens muted, almost pastel. Unexpected arroyos, entangled in brush.

More cattle in big pastures, fewer fields of tall corn. No limber stretching maples and locusts, but spreading live oaks. Two degrees south of where I’ve ever lived before; ten degrees west. The real West quite visible, over that way. Days of more constant length throughout the year, not the long long summer evenings and short short winter days that I now know well. How my heart always sank with the wan winter sun of the upper Midwest.

Heat, of course; a few degrees warmer than the Alabama I grew up in (sans air conditioning), a few percentage points less humid. After so long in a cooler world, where even in the midst of hot and humid summers a northerly wind can sweep through and make the world crisp and dry for a while, how readily will we re-acclimate ourselves to implacable heat? We once knew it intimately.

Our new world is still mostly flat, though, not the ridges and valleys among which we grew up. No landscape opening before us like a grassy sea will seem as natural to us as the wooded hill rising up to hide the rest of the world. We will continue, then, to know broader vistas. In most other respects things will change. We will see how it goes.