Monday, August 11, 2008

Place Requires Context

My rural home in Western Loudoun gives me the ultimate sense of country peace. Our house sits in the middle of a deep patch of woods, at the end of a long driveway, at the end of a deadend road. When we sit on the deck, we see a lovely sycamore grove, hear cardinals calling and horses whinnying to each other, and smell hyacinth and fresh-cut hay. I tell friends that we bought Blackberry Wood because no matter what happens on adjacent farms, our Home will still be the same.

But that really isn't true, as much as I'd like to believe it.

If the 500 acre farm that borders our land becomes tract mansions (which it is likely to do), our Home, even if it remains exactly the same, will never feel the same again. We'd hear lawnmowers and cars and weedwhacking equipment. And even if they were the quietest of neighbors, we'd know that on the other side of our own tract of woods, the suburbs had begun. Similarly if the winding narrow roads that bring you to our place are paved and widened, or the horse farms disappear, or foxhunting goes away, the sense of place we now feel would be vastly diminished.

I've met many folks who move out to the country and immediately want trash pickup, street lights, and paved roads. There seems to be little consciousness that once those niceties are provided, the feeling that brought them to the country in the first place would be gone. They talk of security and convenience, not realizing that a place in the country doesn't have anything to do with those things and to make it so, will make it the suburbs, which they fled in the first place.

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