Sunday, August 7, 2011

A New England Misadventure: Friendly, Slow Country

Take a walk with me...

I have walked these roads and paths since I was five years old. In those days, I would walk to Hamilton Pond with my family: my brother was smaller than me, and I remember being very aware and scared of alligator snapping turtles that lurked in the rushes at the edge of the pond.

When I began my walk the other day, I was very sad, for a multitude of reasons. Slowly, though, as emotion is apt to do, my mood changed from sadness to awareness to awe to happiness. Happiness at the way the light looked as it shone through the fronds of ferns, awe when the lilypads and grasses turned metallic on the surface of the pond as I walked by, and awareness of others, different from me, as I walked right by a doe asleep in a hayfield.

The light here is so vivid, so full of life-giving, photosynthesis-charged energy, that it is strong enough to look as if it is bleaching the horizon: turning those plants that might have deep green leaves and leaflets yellow, gold, chartreuse. It's as if the sun is here for such a short time that everything bursts with the desire to respond to its influence: the tropisms are intense! Cattails sway, hay changes from green-brown grass to golden straw. The ferns twist and turn in the wind, changing color as they move back and forth.

As I drove up here several weeks ago, it was the light that I noticed most. The light that shone painfully down onto the plants at the side of the highway as I raced by at 85 miles per hour. Everywhere I looked were trees! shrubs! grasses! birds! deer! In Philadelphia, there is a lack of these things and it wasn't until I was in their midst at a rest stop in southern Maine that I realized how much I had missed the nature that, in Austin, I took for granted.

It was on this walk, too, that I realized how interconnected my mood is to my surroundings: how natural beauty effects me. I have a strange jealousy for people who do not experience this, because it must make living in diverse locales easier. It must make the city less tough to take: the cracks in the pavement, the brick, the concrete parks less incongruous.

The surface of the pond was so stupendous! How lucky was I to leave my house in a foul funk, walk down the road that is so familiar to me I hardly notice the steps I take anymore, past the Post Office that will stay open, across the fast-lane that is Route 3 here at the head of the island, and over again, into friendly, slow country.


  1. Why were you sad? Nostalgia for missing the place? You had me worried there for a minute that you witnessed a human induced change or environmental destruction.

  2. There was definitely some nostalgia, but also I was sad that I was going to have to leave that place, that Philly is much harder a move than I thought, etc....I just got back here and am suffering island withdrawal...