Embracing Place

The landscape transitions through the progressive color transformations of the leaves before they fall away from their hosts to the ground.  We sense the eternal swelling and eruption of vegetable counterparts has nearly all but collapsed with an abrupt closing of the fall weather.  Last nights ongoing fury of wind sweeping across the midwest was a wake up call to those of us who have been dawdling when it comes to last minute tasks involving closing up our gardens and tidying up our yards. 

There was a sense of trepidation coupled with outright awe at the sheer force of nature.  Had there actually been any moisture in the air, the record low would have propelled us into an all out blizzard, the likes of that which you only come across once or twice in a lifetime.  Now will come the hurried last minute preparations of getting yard work taken care of before the snows lock the landscape into a blanket of frozen whiteness.  And then we will be forced to move in a new rhythm with the land. 

 The changing of the seasons transposes us urban wanderers into a different place and time.  Instead of perpetually seeking the journey, the journey has come to us instead and suddenly we are on an exposed peak of a Mt. Everest, the wind whipping by, eyelashes freezing together, obscuring our temporal view.

I often remember a phrase my husband once told me when I would remark about the horrid winter chill the midwest winters conjure up.  His comment was that it just showed you what it felt like to be alive.  The total unadultered visceral experience – the feeling of being alive.   Deep down, aren’t we all after this?  Feeling alive in a place, opening us up physically, mentally, and spiritually to something beyond just ourselves?  We are all wanderers, roaming this great global sphere.  Trying to make sense out of it all and find purpose and meaning in our lives.  We are travelling through time and space – and can have our worlds utterly transposed by the powers of nature. 

Landlocked in the Midwest, I have never spent any significant time living in a place where the variability was not present, and I wonder what it would be like to live in a land of unrelenting sun, or perpetual rain.  How does an experience of life as such lay claim to the human soul and color your world?  Is everything just made more real due to the stark absence of that which is not the constant?  Or do the minute fluctuations in the life experience become like a finely gradated ruler by which you measure all your experiences against?

That is the beauty of this place, this temporal location.  It is only in the last few years that I have come to fully embrace the changing of the seasons, instead of trotting along, true to the Minnesotan core, grumbling about the unrelenting weather, instead of just throwing myself into the mix and soaking up the experience for all it’s worth.  And for brief moments in time I am allowed to experience those constants present in other parts of the world – rainy Seattle, tropical Indonesia, frigid Antarctica, mediterranean Greece, and, like last night, the unrelenting howl of the wind 8,848 feet in the air on the peak of Mount Everest.  The changes may not come when we expect them to or when we would prescribe them, but they come, and the best we can do is to embrace them as they hit us, sometimes subtly, and other times, with the force of a lion.   

Tell me of an experience that made you feel alive.  Why are you continually inspired to wander outside in the pouring rain or freezing cold, when others are hunkered down inside, curled up in a blanket?  Stories welcome in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

~urban wanderlust

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~ by urbanwandernlust on October 28, 2010.

2 Responses to “Embracing Place”

  1. One of my favorite sensations is walking out of a bitterly cold airconditioned place and into warm enveloping sunshine consuming my entire being. The first time I remember noticing this sensation I was in college (kind of a late bloomer, huh?) and every time I experience it I am reminded of that time I walked out of the Bowler with my friend Mark and the sun greeted us with her warm sweet breath! Conversely, the sun and humidity can be just as sweltering and stifiling (as is often the case of St. Louis summers) causing one to retreat indoors. Thanks for getting me to think about this!

    • Well said Gretchen – it is amazing how much we are affected by the changes in our atmospheric conditions. I’ve been doing some more thinking about this idea of embracing place, undoubtedly because of the 16+ inches of snow that was just dumped on the Twin Cities metro area. Sure to churn up material for posts in the future.

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