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On Sirens and Place

“Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun

I talk of travel but deliberately spend money on plumbing fixtures that cost as much as a plane ticket to faraway places. You can feel the quality in a good plumbing fixture, you can feel the permanence of it if fate allows it a good home. A good faucet will outlive all of us. Surely it will last longer than a trip to Paris or Tuscany. Does a faucet sing a siren song the way that travel does? Surely not, but never forget that Odysseus was simply trying to get home to Ithaca. Sirens pull us away from home, never to return. Still, we hear the call.

Surely, this place that we call home will outlast our desire to stay in it. Yet the garden remains, with bee balm rising to meet the sun year after year. The hummingbirds return to meet it, and the butterflies and bees. Bee balm (Monarda) is a bit like me, with a wandering soul. Its roots spread out, testing the limits of the garden, and each year the flowers bloom in a different place than the year before. Kindred spirit, I let them roam, content to see where they rise each year. In a walled garden there’s only so much room to run. Still, the hummingbirds always return, knowing they’ll be there somewhere nearby. And so will I.

Returning seems the thing. When you have a sense of place you’ll move heaven and earth to get back to it again. But to return means to leave now and then. Knowing deep down that place remains.

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