Sense of place is my term for the part of this journey that includes finding a new home, geographically speaking, for myself and my partner. It is admittedly difficult to get a sense of place when one is cruising through at interstate speeds, but in our big push to get first to Vermont and subsequent decision to push on to Maine the same day, I took away some impressions.
For instance, New York drivers (at least in upstate) are more courteous than most any we have encountered and certainly belie the brashness that gets depicted by the TV/movie/customs agent New Yorkers I have witnessed.
When you get into Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, the slightly nutty (though nowhere near Toronto level insanity), frantic driving resumes. But the people are courteous enough to at least signal when they whip around you and merge at unsafe distances (unlike the Michiganders). And the parts of both Vermont and New Hampshire we saw were as pretty as a postcard, complete with steepled churches on evening river waterfronts painted an uncommon (for a church) shade of red, and Green Mountains turning many other colors in the fading season and light.
This brings me to Maine. Whenever I tell people that my parents live in Maine, they all seem to have a similarly wistful, reverent reaction and say, “Ohhh, Maine. I love Maine”, or something to that effect. Their daydream-y faces and tones of wonder do not surprise me in the slightest. I have talked about Maine in this same way since the first time I came here to visit back in the early 2000’s. And that was in the dead of winter! I have since been back at least once in every season (including mud/black fly season… or “spring” as some people might call it) and each time I have been mystified and marveled at the spell this place has over me.
Maybe it is the fact that the breakneck pace we kept this past week has now rendered me a bit under the weather, maybe it is just being with my family for the first time in a long while and bringing my love into that fold for the first time, or maybe it is just that by this point, as much as I have loved every second of this journey, the urge to stop and stay awhile is overwhelming. Whatever it is, there is a part of me that very strongly wishes we could stop and stay for a while longer than the very generous three weeks we have given ourselves to be here. Perhaps the undeniable changing of the seasons has my inner nomad suddenly longing for a place to hunker down and ride out the long winter. But this is a foolhardy notion. We purposely mapped this trip to follow the seasons and keep ourselves from getting stuck anywhere winter might actually create havoc and cause us to be stranded. But the part of me that craves comfort and loves being snuggled up with my sweet or venturing out into the cold just to defy the nastier weather and get some sunshine and exercise, the part of me that loves my family and misses my mama, wishes just a little bit that we could hit the pause button and spend the winter here so we could resume farm work with the growing season as we head back west.
I guess maybe the next part of the journey, with no real farm work to be done and no real leads as yet on tiny/sustainable living explorations to give us better direction and purpose has me a bit baffled and bummed as to what it’s going to mean/look like from here on out. Of course we have loads of people to see and places we still want to visit. But will we just keep pushing ourselves to “get there” without the structure of farm work or the promise of the kind of respite only staying with parents or the like can provide?
Some part of me knew this internal struggle was coming as we came nearer to getting here. If only the people weren’t so earthy and genuine, the nearby towns not so full of wonderful, locally grown food, the countryside not so lovely and the roads to windy that you always feel you could get lost in the most pleasant way imaginable, there would be no struggle, no question at all.
The more we answer as we wend along our way, the more we question about what and where is right for us. And thank goodness for that. I could do this kind of research, soul searching and heartfelt and happy, forever.