“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Augustine of Hippo
I’m often reminded of the places I’ve lived. I revisit them in my mind, through stories they’ve written and within the experience they’ve imparted. I can’t help but to think how a certain place leaves its mark upon the heart and mind. Subtle beauty, nuance, the smell of the air and the taste of the wind all breathe drops of life into mine. These places are never forgotten, no matter how far we travel from them. Whether they’ve written good stories or bad, we all take them with us in our book of life.
I can vividly recall growing up in the plains of Oklahoma, near the rolling hills of the east. The green lands were all around me and I was the explorer. Numerous streams, ponds and large creeks were always a part of my backyard. They gave me my first glance at the natural world, though most of them have been hidden under concrete now, or overgrown from time. The great Arkansas river we crossed often, high above the current formed sandbars that showed its force. This place was my kingdom for many years.
I then remember as I placed my eyes on the Gulf of Mexico for the first time, the Mississippi sound. I recall easily the smell of salt and brine in the air; the smell of shrimp and spiced crab boil. The live oaks lurched from the beach, and hung their hearty branches low near antebellum homes. The Spanish moss hung from large boughs, drooping to the ground, waving in the wind among the scent of Magnolia blossoms. This land I explored for many years, and though scarred from Katrina, it still waives a friendly hello every time I return.
I recall many places.. The cold waters of the Pacific along the Oregon and California coast; the smell of the Manzanita trees; the crisp morning air of San Diego and the song of its resident parrots. I remember the humid air along the coast of North and South Carolina, it’s southern charm just as welcoming. I still feel the heat of the high desert plateau and my many travels to Arizona and New Mexico; The scent of the juniper wood as it burns under blankets of stars, chilled by the high desert winds. My love for these places never wains, these are my pictures; the decorations of my heart and mind.
I miss places often as well.. The cold nights of Upstate New York, the white blanket of constant snow, and the milky way cloud that I could see from my porch every night. I miss the St. Regis river that flowed behind our home, and the fields of dandelion that sprang forth in the spring. I miss the stench of New Orleans, the French Quarter and the garden district. I miss the bumpy roads, and the street fairing precession of tourists and locals along St. Charles Avenue. I miss the Tickfaw river of Southeastern Louisiana, the brackish bayous and salt laden lakes, the strawberry festival of Ponchatoula and all the unique folk that make the south home.
Today I sit with a new view, near the base of Pike’s Peak. Red Mountain stands proudly outside my window. I dwell among the soda springs, a place where the natives of centuries past came to refresh and replenish their weary, traveled bodies. I sit among a mound of history, rich in culture and steeped in mystery. This is where I am, but all of these places are a part of me, my gestalt.
In our lives we travel far, we live fast and we rarely look back. We should all take the time to reflect on the places we’ve visited, to reacquire the harmony of these lands as they’ve been given gracefully to us. Our home is all around, and it should be loved, remembered and cherished.
Go forth and discover your backyard. Take in more than just the view… Remember your homes of past days, and sit in peace with life. These are the decorations of our hearts, and when placed upon the wall of the mind they will remain forever a part of our time here.