There are places that throughout my life have been there for me. Places where I belong.
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. I found the nearest beach where the ocean absorbed everything. Bring me to any ocean with the smell of decomposing plankton and seaweed and I am home.
Everywhere I live I am drawn to a spot. My place to sit through thick and thin.
In college, I didn’t have a car and bicycled to places at the edge of Corvallis where academia met wild. I once spent the night alone under a cedar above town, I swear I could hear the trees sing as I drifted to sleep.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico I would go to the beach, plug my ears against the city 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 these bits of ground.
For the first time, I now own a place. I have permission by humans to plant, grow and tend to my own 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.