The Power of Place
Well. I’m glad we got that out of the way. I don’t have much more to say about any of it now except thank you: for explaing the ways in which you feel the same way, for offering solutions, and for laying the support on thick. I am so grateful for the community here. A few of you have written to ask if I’m quitting. I’m so not quitting. I’m just trying to figure out the new world order that feels right and fun and creative and awesome. That’s why I’m calling them growing pains. But now that the slate’s been wiped clean to some extent, let’s try for it. As cheerleaders say: Ready? OK!
I’ve moved two states north for the last half of August to be near my sister and new niece. It’s an entirely different pace here in a valley of rural Massachusetts. This is the view from my desk.
All day a very busy squirrel hauls crab apples to and fro across the side yard. A neighborhood cat, whose name we learned is Walter, purrs past the french doors in the mornings in hopes of a saucer of cream or a dish of cat food or a kind, unhurried person who will let him lean into your legs and wind his way around you in a figure eight. There is a small ornamental pond on the patio with lily pads and tiny little frogs (trite but true!). The first night we were here, I mistook the loud rhythmic cricket sounds for the alarm on my iPhone (sad but true!). We leave the windows open at night to hear all those summer bugs and birds and wake to an apartment that’s turned cool overnight. In bare feet, I walk yesterday’s coffee grounds out to the compost pile over wet grass. The air, if this makes sense, is humectant but not humid. It smells green, like dirt and thriving plants. I have seen more butterflies in the past week than I’ve seen in the past thirty years.
It’s all quite a departure from Brooklyn life, where trucks and traffic rumble beneath my second floor apartment windows. There, after work, I head to the spin bike at the gym or out for a cocktail with a friend. Here, after work, I head to a bike path.
I like it better in some ways. It’s no easy task to shrug off the work day and connect with who we are outside of emails and conference calls. But when I ride down a side street that dead-ends at a bike path traveling through two little villages under a canopy of trees, it’s easier to see the line between work and all the rest of life. Last night I pumped hard uphill. An older woman with her dog grinned at me, like my-isn’t-she-having-fun. And I was. Am. This evening I plan to ride to the Tuesday farmer’s market where there might be a jug band and will certainly be flowers to replace last week’s wilting bouquets, tomatoes for sandwiches, and basil for everything. Zoom I’m at the farmer’s market. Zoom I’m on the bike path cutting through the woods. Zoom I’m at my sister’s holding my new niece, touching her tiny little feet and burying my nose in her fat belly. It’s easy.
I’ve always been interested in the ways place can inform lifestyle. How much a culture values community, leisure, food, or health seeps into the day-to-day. I feel it here especially, where the shifts in the hours that book-end work feel profound (see: natural world rhapsody above.)
How do you transition from the work day to your evenings? Is there a ritual or routine you especially love? Are those rituals at all dependent on place? Do you ever think about how you might change those routines if you were somewhere else?