Apparently, all I need to trigger a sense of home is hills and hemlock trees. The new house is in a town that has hills (this is a big deal in my part of the midwest) and lots of evergreens among the deciduous trees, including hemlocks. From my front door, I see two hemlocks silhouetted against the sky, and they make me feel so peaceful and happy. Despite the vile heat and humidity, suddenly I have no desire ever to move back to my home state, or to the one where much of my family live now. I don’t ever want to go anywhere again.

Well, I would like to go to the UK and visit some manuscripts. But apart from that, I’m fine right here.

Earlier this week, we went back to our former town to do some errands. It seemed like years since I’d been there, and very strange to think that I had lived there for so long. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I want to leave? I love the new house and the new town.

The enormous yard makes this place like living in a park. It’s tremendously relaxing to look outside and see so much green, and so little that has to do with other humans. We have squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds, and probably other animals who are more nocturnal; I’m sure there are also deer, possums, raccoons, and either foxes or coyotes.

I’ve been looking up old posts on Clarissa’s blog because I recalled her making a similar transition when she bought a house surrounded by greenery. She went from liking concrete to preferring leaves. She felt like she’d become a completely different person. She could see herself in that house at 80. Well, maybe by 80 I’ll be ready to move somewhere with no stairs. But I’m amazed by how much at home I feel here. Clarissa is one of those bloggers I find interesting precisely because often we are so different, but on this topic it’s like we’re soul mates!

Maybe it’s because humans in general need to be exposed to nature a lot, and it’s good for us. I spent a lot of time outdoors at my old house, gardening, going for walks, shoveling snow (oh, you know what? if you don’t have sidewalks, you don’t have to shovel them), and there were plenty of trees and other green things to see from the windows. But this is a whole new level of nature, and it makes me feel like a whole new person.

To be sure, there’s a grocery store and other shops about a mile away, perfectly walkable, so it’s not the level of isolation that both my brothers have, which always makes me long to rush back to civilization. I’m not willing to drive ten miles to buy groceries, and I think my feelings on visiting family influenced my sense that I needed to be urban. But now I think the suburbs are a fabulous place to be (even though I don’t recognize myself). I feel like I get to spend the rest of my life on vacation.

8 thoughts on “What urban soul?

  1. College towns are often a good compromise between urban and suburban, with the cosmopolitan culture brought by the college but the slower pace and lower density of suburbs. I’ve lived in Palo Alto (CA), Ithaca (NY), and Santa Cruz (CA). Palo Alto is no longer a college town, having been taken over by Silicon Valley millionaires. Ithaca was nice, but a bit isolated (and ice on the hills in winter was dangerous), and Santa Cruz is just right for me.

    1. I’ve lived in both Ithaca and Santa Cruz, and I would say they are college towns in a very different category than Charleston, IL, Manhattan, KS, or River Falls, WI. The latter set might be more desirable than nearby places without colleges, but if you’re coming from Flagshipville the culture shock may be just as bad as if you went straight to Podunk.

  2. “Living in a park” & those flowers–this place sounds perfect for you. It’s exciting to move to a new place, too, and get everything set up. Which drawer will be the silverware drawer? Where will we put the glasses? Things like that.

    1. Isn’t it strange?
      I can’t decide if it’s mainly the pandemic, or life stage, or just having been unclear on what really makes me happy vs what I think I want.

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