March 25, 2020
I’ve heard stories lately of people struggling to return home as travel grinds to a halt. I wish them the best, which is easy to do when I’m firmly settled in one place. The house where I’m staying is so familiar that I can find my way around it in pitch darkness. It’s filled with objects that have shaped my daily life over 26 years.
Most importantly, I am surrounded by people I trust (and one cat; the jury’s still out on that one). My neighborhood is the center of activity in this little village. I could spend hours just watching everyone come and go — and I have. It’s a skill I picked up early in life. I’ve been observing my corner of the world since I lived in my childhood home less than a mile from here. I’ll never forget how it felt to perch in that second-story window seat, safe in the shadow of a wooded bluff.
Of course, most of what I saw back then was new to me. I only hope I’ve managed to retain a sense of wonder from those days. The outlook is positive. I can still marvel, for example, at the fact that we live right at the edge of the Driftless Area. On one side of town is a geologically young landscape, reshaped by glaciers 15,000 years ago. On the other is a row of bluffs leading to the million-year-old Wisconsin River valley. How many other towns can claim to be two places at once?
I have been influenced by these natural forces. My personal history is intertwined with this place, just as it’s intertwined with my human neighbors. Whatever happens in the next few months, I’m glad to know exactly where I am.