Sense of Place

Things one is likely to see on a Sunday morning run in this valley:

  • A group baptism in the New River
  • Mating June bugs
  • A lone pair of eastern bluebirds successfully defending their home from swallows
  • A single Barbie stiletto boot
  • Mulberry trees heavy with ripe fruit
  • An ethnically diverse group of men – and now one woman – playing a pick-up soccer game
  • Great blue herons perching patiently on the riverbank
  • A preacher practicing his weekly sermon in front of a squirrel audience
  • No river otters, yet again

When I first moved here, a friend asked me to describe what this place was like. After a few minutes, she interrupted me and said, “You are not allowed to use the word ‘weird’ again.” It’s been seven years now and I still struggle with the right words to evoke this place for people who have never been here. But it’s clear that this place is where we will be, for a long while, perhaps forever. This year has been one of enormous changes, things done deliberately to learn to make peace with that settling in, things all done in order to find a more balanced life. Poet Alice Notley wrote that “sometimes if things aren’t going to fall apart / you have to take them apart.” This is a start.

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