Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Name That Path

A recent walk through the Folkstone woods led me past a shady glade and creek curve where the girls used to play. They called it Brace Yourself. Maybe there was some feat of derring do they had to perform there, walking across the creek on a log or picking up a crawdad. I'm unclear why they gave it that name, but the point is that they did.

Brace Yourself got me thinking about the joy of naming places. I remember doing that when I was a kid. There was the Valley of Eternal Snows — a sheltered cove in the Ware Farm field behind our house, a place where I had once found some dirty snow late in the season.

And then there were the Block-up Boys — not exactly a place, I know. They were the bullies on the street who wouldn't let me ride my tricycle to the top of the hill. (So there was a place involved, sort of.)

When we name a place we make it our own.  We look at it with fresh eyes; we see it whole. Why do we stop doing this as we get older? Do mortgages and responsibilities drive it away, this penchant for staking imaginative claim to the places we love?

I made a tiny vow right there at Brace Yourself. I decided to start naming the bridges and paths, the springs and glades. Even if no one else ever hears or knows these names — I will.

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