I live on a slope, a gentle slope to be sure, but steep enough to be seen in the picture above if you look closely. The track in the woods curves to the left then sharply to the right, gradually winding its way up the slope to a ridge no more than ten minutes away. If, instead of curving right, you were to follow the horizontal path straight ahead you would before long arrive at my house. Now that I have called your attention to the slope, you may find the photograph a little disorienting. On a flat piece of land, a slight tilt of the camera would provide exactly the same image as above.

But this is no optical illusion. The slope you see in the picture is real enough to me, since, over the past 40 years, I have spent literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of my life leveling out this slope, trying to eradicate it from around the house, so that our garden beds don’t erode with the first rain. And so that we can have a small flat lawn space in front of the house and on each side for chairs and barbecue, and for kids games. I know, I know, that’s easy to achieve with a little Caterpillar Backhoe . . . but try it with a spade and wheelbarrow.

Whatever you choose to call it (slope, incline, gradient, pitch, rise or tilt), it makes me think fondly of those Oklahoma plains where I was born. Flat as a pancake, they are, which reminds me incidentally of a certain breakfast with maple syrup and blueberries.

Lars, Shu, Etaoin and Christine said thanks.

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David Wade Chambers

Born in Oklahoma: 30 years in US. 6 years in Canada, 40 years in Australia. Academic field: history and philosophy of science. Currently, teach indigenous studies online at Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Brandon University (Manitoba). Come visit our B&B on Australia's Great Ocean Road. Mate's Rates for Hi community! (http://www.cimarron.com.au)

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