There are places that throughout my life have been there for me. Places where I find peace, respite, relief.
As a child it was behind my house, above the river, on a platform a friend and I hammered onto a fallen black locust log. I could hear my mother calling from the house but it was far away. I belonged to a forest with a river running through.
We moved from Aurora to Garibaldi, Oregon when I was sixteen and I needed a new place. Unsettled I sat on the roof out my bedroom window. Looking up at the hills above town a hawk once circled so close I could see individual feathers. From our new home, I could get to the ocean in ten minutes. The ocean absorbed everything. Bring me to any ocean with the smell of decomposing plankton and seaweed and I am home.
At Oregon State University, I didn’t have a car and bicycled to places at the edge of town where wild met academia. I once spent the night alone under a cedar in the hills. I swear I could hear the trees sing as I lay exhausted after straining to hear every eerie forest sound.
Everywhere I live I am drawn to a spot. My place to sit through thick and thin.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico I would go to the beach, plug my ears and gaze to sea. In Kaikoura, New Zealand a bench on a trail held me. In Spey Bay, Scotland I would sit on the rocky beach, listening to the Moray Firth lap the land.
Beautiful places. I owe part of who I am to the places that ground me.
For the first time, I now own my place. I have permission by humans to plant, grow and tend to my backyard, my place. And the walnut tree that has stood here long before my time. A morning in my place, listening to flickers above, sitting still so as not to scare the juncos. An evening sitting unseen by the opossum heading to the neighbor’s compost. There is peace and quiet in my place even with the sound of busy Lombard St. in North Portland. I sit under the walnut and I am home again.