Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I couldn't have said it better

Sometime you read something that so speaks to where you are in your life experiences that you are amazed that someone else could put into words exactly what you are feeling. I had just such an experience while reading "This Organic Life".  The book chronicles Joan Gussow's move from her old, huge Victorian home of many decades to a smaller home on the banks of the Hudson River. Their "new" house ends up needing to be demolished and a new house built on the site, but it is the site that has drawn Joan and her husband to the location any way.

"September 27- Terrible, rainy day. No work on the house, obviously. But having just come back from Piermont, I need to reflect on the astonishing change of mood that place created. Nothing more has been done. The rain prevented work today, and prevented us from being out in the garden. But the place (was it the changing weather? There was a stiff wind off the water, and the sky kept changing, going silver and gray) just made me elated. When we got back to the car, we drove out the pier to look at the wild weather and I realized my mood was totally changed.  I have been depressed for days-partly the weather, I think, but its not only that. I simply love it in Piermont. I feel so wonderful when I'm there. It's just elating to be where you can connet so intimately with the weather every day. In this big house, we know if its raining or gloomy, and sometimes at night, when I get up to pee, I can see the moon so I know whether or not its full.  But there, you are aware of every nuance, every changing cloud, you feel the weather all the time, and its wonderful, sometimes even frightening as it almost was today with the wind driving heavy waves against the peir. We are going to live there, and I'm going to love it.

Earlier in the summer, a friend who was studying landscape suggested an explanation for the deep affinity I feel for this spot.  She had encountered in the writing of a scholar Jay Appleton the idea that two qualities in the landscape were particularly reassuring to relatively helpless mammals such as humans: refuge and prospect. Refuge for hiding out, and prospect for watching out- for enemies and food. Congers (her old house) had no prospect. We never sat out on our lawn, only on the porch, and then only "in season." I had enclosed the porch view- with a grapevine and evergreens close to the house and with shrubs around the property- to protect us from the corner traffic.  But Piermont offered us both refuge (note our reluctance to lose the shelter of the old house) and prospect of the river from the terrace and from the boardwalk.  It was not merely foolhardiness, but mammalian longing that made us buy a house we had to demolish."

I could not have written my feelings about both the old house and the new any better.  People keep asking how we could leave our old house after all the work and time we spent there.  Now I just have to give them these two paragraphs to read.

And Joan's garden has been plagued with flooding.  Here are a few pictures of her garden before and after the flooding of 2010.  And her little town of Piermont was devastated after Hurricane Sandy.  I hope she will be able to rebuild her garden again. 

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