Reading Fred First is like conversing with myself. He manages to say things in a much more articulate and beautiful way than I probably would. Take the following excerpt:
Why is there ‘no place like home’?
Because I am away from home, I am wondering just what it means to feel ‘at home’. I deeply love the southern Appalachians where I live, but feel certain I could love other places as well, had the Great Gumball Machine yielded ME in another instance of place and time.
I sometimes wonder, if I had grown up in some flat and featureless place (Kansas, maybe), would I have ever developed a ‘sense of place’, a feeling of belonging to a place that, upon leaving, all I would think of is how much I looked forward to returning, of standing in my own fields again?
I’m talking about a relationship with the land, WHERE you live, not the people, not the city, not the community. What makes one either bond to the physical features of where they live, or not? Is it simply a matter of loving the one you’re with, geographically speaking? Growing where you’re planted? I don’t think so; at least not for me.
I know whereof he speaks. I was born on the coastal plain of east Texas. Houston, Texas was the place of my birth; Pasadena, Texas was the locale of my upbringing and early adulthood. In my early teen years I was exposed to the Texas Hill Country, and it was here that I hung my dreams of moving to when I was able. Over the years I would drag the family on camping trips into different parts of this rugged portion of the State in which I was born and love. On the drive home from every trip I have ever made into the central part of Texas I began to get depressed as I would get within 100 miles of home. For a long time I could not understand why this mood would hit. Then one trip I noted where exactly I began to get moody and it was then I noticed the one glaring fact…my mood came on exactly where the hills (such as they where) played out and the coastal plains of my birth began.
I began to really pay attention to the sacred places in my life (and at that time I really hadn’t seen any real mountains), and all of them were heights. Enchanted Rock, a monolithic granet dome located in central Texas, has always been a favorite. The Devils Backbone, a stretch of Texas state road west of San Marcos, is a watershed divide with some nice views in each direction from the road. The drive to Lost Maples State Park where the road plunges of the top of the plateau and gets to the bottom as fast as it can…The one commonality of all of these and many others is the overview.
I have to wonder if Fred’s Goose Creek Home would be as appealing to my personality. I have never lived in a place without the wide open horizons of my native state and have to wonder at my ability to adapt in a valley…don’t know if I could handle the closed in nature of the place. I guess, as always after reading a Fred Fessay esay, I now have another thing to think about…Thanks Fred.