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Senses of place
Some words (& prompts) on H O M E
What I'm almost always thinking about: All the different words to designate and the myriad ways to celebrate home.
All the places we go looking for home, and the places we tend to find it: On trails long-traipsed; in a quiet sunrise; with our hands wrapped snugly around a mug of hot coffee; in weekly rituals and everyday connections we might otherwise describe as mundane, expected; in a town we've visited once or 20 times; in a room filled with raucous laughter; standing underneath a stately ponderosa or a grove of cedar trees [maybe for you they’re aspens, firs, tamaracks, maples, or oaks]; with our hands in the dirt, planting seeds, and later: tending to a garden intentionally curated; in the company of humans who know our hearts as well as we do; in songs we’ve listened to 100 times over our lifetimes; after the first bite of a memorable meal; in the smell of freshly fallen rain.
I've long found a deep and abiding sense of home connected to certain familiar landscapes, within certain stories (both real and imagined), and always in the water—though sometimes my sense of place can altogether surprise me. I love finding it in an embrace, a laugh, a single look.
I can't think about home and senses of place without thinking about animal kin, too. There's a longstanding relationship I have with the local osprey here in Idaho that feels sacred and makes me feel incredibly seen; whenever I leave home for any length of time, I miss them more than I miss almost everything and everyone else.
I like remembering the places I call home are never mine alone.
I talk to the osprey every time they come to greet me while I’m in the water and I think about Terry Tempest William’s words from When Women Were Birds:
The birds remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.
What I realized after walking out of this particularly photogenic water home over the weekend: This is potentially the last time I'll get to swim in this particular(ly beloved) alpine lake until next year. The osprey, the few that still linger, will fly south soon.
What is doubly hard to believe: That looking at the photo above you would guess we have snow on our immediate horizon. As early as today, in fact. I look at that photo and don't see nearly enough ear-piercing yellow and sun-splattered orange to reflect what will soon be late October.
I might not be entirely ready for daily highs in the 30s starting sooner than later, but I'm of the mind you needn't be ready for everything all the time.
Winter will come, a bit quicker here in the mountains, certainly, as tends to be the bittersweet reality every year. The top-most layers of beloved lakes I adore visiting routinely will freeze, and in doing so claim a much needed ecological rest and revitalization.
Fun (nerdy water) fact: Did you know there's more oxygen in water directly underneath ice than anywhere else in a frozen lake?
In the meantime, I'm going to do my best not to take a single second in the water—or a single afternoon with my face pointed toward still-warm sunlight—for granted.
Some apropos writing prompts for you, then, as promised—and because enabling storytelling in any form has also long felt like home to me:
What's something you don't feel quite ready for?
What would happen if you did the thing you’ve been wanting to do—if you simply began—without feeling ready?
Make a list of places that feel like home to you. These places can be people, landscapes, trees, baked goods, your legs pedaling a bike, animals, a sparkly nightgown. There are no rules here, except this one: Let home show up for you on the page. What does it look and sound and smell like? How does it make you feel?
As always, I’d love to hear where these prompts take you, if you’re up for sharing.
Thanks for being here. I hope the rest of your October is filled with magic and moments where your heart feels immensely and gratefully h o m e.
A little bit of backstory about Kerrtopia and the woman behind the words:
A lifelong writer, enthusiastic English Lit major (see also: I read a lot), and fan of learning something new every day, I wanted a dedicated space to share more writing-specific thoughts and prompts more regularly. By day I work for an Indie nonfiction publisher and by night (among other things) I lead a quarterly writing workshop called DIVE via Creative Fuel Collective—you can learn all about it and sign up to be kept in the loop for future offerings right here.
Do you know someone who would benefit from receiving regular writing prompts to their inbox, who might delight in reading some intentional rambles about words and water and the power in finding our respective and collective senses of place?
I’d love it if you’d share this post and Kerrtopia with them.
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