#3 in the Urban Series, Landmark Quarterly Challenge
This is the landmark I grew up with, a letter on a mountain in Provo, Utah. Known as the “Y,” there are annual hikes, and a lighting of the letter on Homecoming. I thought everyone had a mountain with a letter on it, but as I grew up and moved around, I found out that most of the world, and certainly the East Coast of the US, doesn’t. Since I chose this idea for my landmark, I found there’s a whole Wikipedia page about these hillside letters. Also known as “mountain monograms,” as one professor wrote in an article about the origins and the spread of these letters, I discovered that University of California-Berkeley was the first. And here’s a map of these letter landmarks, mostly in the mountain west. (Maybe because we have mountains?)
The movie Cars even used hillside letters on the mountain above Radiator Springs, the fictional small town in the movie. The RS is just to the right of the stoplight. (Sorry for the weird image, but I had to take a photo of my computer to get this shot.) The mountain from another view:
Columbia University in New York does have a “C” painted just above their boathouse on the Hudson River:
Yet most people think of this when I say hillside letters. . .
. . . but to me, neither of those counts. A letter needs to be embedded on a hillside or a mountain to count as a landmark. So that was the genesis of the quilt.
Our landmark hillside letter is a C, an imitation of that first University of California-Berkeley letter, which was set onto a hillside about 1905, the granddaddy of all the other mountain monograms. This is a blurry image from Wikipedia of our local mountain (our letter isn’t really yellow). I tried to photograph it, but couldn’t get a good vantage point, so this will have to do.
Here’s my little art quilt with its C on its mountain. (Note: although I like to photograph outside, today we are having raging Santa Ana winds, so inside it is.)
What is the significance of these other letters, spelling out the word C-H-A-N-G-E?
As Longfellow observed, “all things must change.” And I keep my mother’s advice that “A change is as good as a rest” close to my heart, for that’s a truth as well. But the C-for-Change linkage came to me one weary night, when I had to go and do one more pick-up and one more errand when teenaged children were still at home. It must have been during our University’s Homecoming Week, for when I rounded the street corner at the base of the Box Springs mountain, I could see the “C” all lit up. I pulled over and gazed at the glowing letter with that tired-behind-the-back-of-the-eyes fatigue, wishing that that I could go home and be home, like I could when the children were little and weren’t off at some activity that required me to be out and about picking them up. I thought back to the “easy days” of tucking them in after a story and prayers and a drink, and about how wonderful those times were. Why did things always have to change?
But I realized that change is the law of the universe, and instead of being at war with that constant mutability towards “something new, something strange” I should just accept it. Change and I are now uneasy companions. I know it won’t always be like that, for experience has taught me that change can come in steep cliffside drop-offs and hair-raising turns on a winding road. But for now, I’ll be content gazing at my quilt where it hangs in the corner of my kitchen.
Please visit the rest of our Four-in-Art group, and see how they’ve interpreted the Landmark Challenge: