Danielle Blewett | Love in the good ol’ USA

HEARTLAND: America's vastness has produced artists of a unique quality as it captivates, challenges and embraces, just like a mother would.

HEARTLAND: America's vastness has produced artists of a unique quality as it captivates, challenges and embraces, just like a mother would.

My best, most recent, mum moment involved John Denver and our son.

When I was a 16-year-old small-town hippy, I saw Denver perform at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion.

The show followed my love of his 1971 album Poems Prayers and Promises and the chick flick of my generation, Sunshine, which was set in the Rocky Mountains.

I wore my best rust-coloured Wrangler jeans and a flimsy, mustard, floral smock.

Denver was taller than I imagined. Much, much taller and skinnier too.

He was ‘riding’ blue jeans and a western shirt with guitar slung over his wide shoulders; all this masculinity topped with gold rimmed spectacles and some of the sweetest lyrics ever written.

For some reason, in my mind, he was short and sort of like the ‘Radar’ character from Mash.

This Easter just passed, five of us squeezed into the kids VW Polo for the obligatory road trip out of Melbourne.

Late on Easter Monday, our 6’3” son, wedged between his sister and her boyfriend offered his playlist.

Harry is very recently returned from eight months study in the US.

Harry won’t mind me saying he’s a little more conservative than his small town, ageing hippy parents.

But his music was three of our favourites - Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and to finish John Denver, Rocky Mountain High.

Cheesey? Absolutely.

I cried (discreetly behind my sunnies) before I started singing at the top of my voice.

This Thursday he sent me a mashup of his seven months studying journalism in Missouri, where Tennessee Williams studied.

Missouri is a conservative state, where radio warnings are heard advising people of colour to avoid public transport.

Our son quickly noticed, unlike Melbourne, people of colour were very generally the only passengers on buses.

He learned the absurdity of gun laws and how easy it is to obtain a license and buy an assault weapon.

He saw privilege determined by colour and religion.

He also experienced the the America of Woody Guthrie…

“When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling 

In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling 

The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting 

This land was made for you and me…”

His mashup included a lot of beer and sport…ice hockey, football and basketball.

However, his first images were from his spring hiking in Colorado, with its mountains and forests and my son smiling more widely than I ever thought possible.

His words ‘this is the happiest I’ve ever been’ make sense of my motherhood.

True, he lived in a bubble of university life.

But to some degree, we all choose our bubble, or our place, in this life.

I found myself wishing Australia was more widely populated, instead of our millions cringing on the coastline, which I’m very sure influences our state of mind and dims our sense of adventure.

I never desired journeying to America.

But through his eyes I saw why it is the home of some of our finest writers and why it sees itself as the land of the great and the free.

It’s a mother of a country.

My son wants to make the US home. Perhaps work in Detroit or Minneapolis?

He would be following is uncle Geoff, who made a Californian life after WWII, his cousin Simon who’s spread his IT startup to New York.

This is my third Mother’s Day without a child in situ.

My girls lives are in Melbourne and Wollongong and for the moment, my son is a 45-minute flight away.