MAKING IT YOURSIn her second book, Happy the Land, Louise Dickinson Rich talks about special places:
“Have you ever seen a place—a house, a meadow lying lazy in the sun, a walled garden, a reedy bend of river—and felt, finally and beyond argument, “That’s mine”? It might have been only a glimpse from a train window of a place you knew you’d never again lay eyes on, but something quick and compelling sprang up in the heart at the sight, and when you were past you’d left a part of yourself there, forever….It was yours.”
I’ve been pondering this for a couple of weeks, wondering if I have such a place. Two places immediately come to mind, but they are both from long ago, when I was in grad school. One was a garden that was for some unknown purpose, supposedly used by the science school. Up on a hill, all by itself. It was closed to us, by a strong chain-link fence. But every evening, my friend and I would stroll up there to chat and to breathe some fresh humid air. We could walk the perimeter of the garden and smell the flowering bushes. There was always a bunny or two on the way.
It was our place; no one else seemed to even know it existed.
Sometimes she and I drove to the former home of artist T.C. Steele and sat down to talk or read there. It is a state historic site of Indiana, a beautiful and quiet place of trees and the House of the Singing Winds. Oddly enough, we never paid money to see inside the buildings; we just sat and enjoyed. We were the only ones there.
His wife left an inscription for visitors, and I always felt like it was written just for me:
“Would that you could walk these trails often—and many times alone. Where T.C. Steele sought and found inspiration for his work, I am hoping that you can find some for yours, no matter what it may be.”
I always kind of wished I could tell her how true that became!
Brown County, Indiana