a sense of place
‘Terroir’ is the effect that sun, soil and strata – the history and substance of the earth – have on things like wine, coffee and tea. It is the “sense of place” from which they come. Something you can taste. Brought right up through the roots.
It makes you wonder…do people have it too? Is there some kind of human terroir?
We are such a mashup in America, our gene pools must look like some sort of DNA jambalaya. Not everyone is interested in sorting it out, in separating the strands Continue reading
It is a spectacularly beautiful day. There’s something about September. It’s always the beginning of the year for me – January is a beginning too, but different somehow. September has that new beginnings feel, fresh, open for business, new clothes, new outlook, new start. Today is cool and bright, just perfect. Even when early September days are hot and muggy (as they often were when I was growing up in St. Louis) you know it’s only a matter of time until the air turns crisp and Septembery. I’ve always felt a kind of promise in it – I still do.
The sky is brilliant blue today in the way it can only be in the fall. It was that kind of blue here in Chicago last Sunday, too. And ten years ago in New York. We were in Columbus, Nebraska that day, doing some family root digging. We heard about the towers and the planes over a little radio while we were sitting in the parish office of St. Bonaventure, where we had been looking for cemetery records.
It was strange to be away from home then, as if we were floating on an island somewhere. It was so quiet and time seemed to have simply stopped. By ten in the morning we were able to reach all four kids, two on the east coast, two back home. Our oldest son was in grad school on Long Island. As we were all trying to make sense of the senseless, one of the first things he said was, “Mom, it was such a beautiful day.” Achingly sad. Not wanting to allow those two things together – beauty and tragedy. But sometimes they do come together and perhaps there is a mercy in that. Every September 11th I remember this, especially when the sky is brilliant blue.
A mercy. Because on a day like this, a day whose beauty just takes your breath away, all that I feel when I look at the sky is hope.
We had a party last night for our house. An anniversary party. As far as embodied attendance, it was pretty small – just myself, my husband and the cat. But there were lots of others in a less embodied state – ghost guests. Well behaved, those guests, very little required from them – really, they just wanted to be remembered. Continue reading
This feels like starting in the middle of a book.
I’ve been dancing around this idea of roots (specifically mine) for years now, but like a super dormant plant, it would force it’s way up out of the soil from time to time – and when I didn’t feed and water it, would just go quietly back to sleep. It’s only now that I’ve invested the time to go at it full throttle. It began with an old photo that burrowed it’s way into my brain the summer before my senior year in college. I’d been to a family reunion in Indianola, Iowa, the hometown of my dad and his sibs and came home with a copy of this b&w photo of my great-grandfather, Patrick Farrelly.
I was an art major and decided I’d paint this guy. I was also seriously lost and drifting and disconnected from any real sense of who I was, where I came from or where I was going. Maybe that’s what attracted me – here was this old man whose DNA I shared. Who was he? Who was I?
So time passed, life happened, some very hard times and many good times. But I kept going back to those questions, and could never really let them rest. Now, as I get older I realize that those things: questions, ideas, longings – which take up permanent residence in our heads – need to be listened to and acted on. Call it a compulsion or call it a calling, they are there for a reason. Continue reading