University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Section 10: August 15, 1985 - December 27, 1987

South Bend, August 15, 1985

A Vast, Uninhabited Territory

On the return flight to America, the Swissair plane flew along the 60th degree of latitude, passing the Southern tip of Greenland. It was a clear day. One could see the floating ice and green shimmering icebergs below, while glacier fields were shining in the sun on the horizon. Thereafter, the jet cruised in a wide circle over Labrador, flying over the Southern end of the Hudson Bay, down to the 50th parallel to the Great Lakes. During this three-hour flight no trace of a human settlement was to be seen. Coming from Europe, one is always surprised and peculiarly touched by this vast, uninhabited territory. Between the 50th and 60th degrees of latitude, Europe still lies in the moderate climatic zone and is densely populated from Frankfurt to Oslo. By way of contrast, the same latitudes in North America are exposed to arctic temperatures. A large part of Canada with its tundra, extensive forests and thousands of lakes is situated between the 50th and the 60th parallels, encompassing a virtually uninhabited wide stretch of land. Only when the airplane reached the Great Lakes at Sault Ste. Marie and then slowed down over Michigan for landing in Chicago, farmland, villages and cities came into view as signs of a permanent settlement.

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