Find Your Place
More than 10 years ago today, I drove to an old farm lane with an enormous locked wooden gate. The gate was made with large rough-cut timber stained red. The daunting gate was softened by a frame of old cedar trees. The tree-lined lane bordered with mature cedars and pines foreshadowed the secluded setting of the farm. The cedars and pines draping the lane were neatly trimmed but not manicured. The private lane drew you in. You wanted to follow it and learn its secret. In time, I learned the secret and where the lane took you. I was hooked by the place.
Place is a simple word really. The Oxford dictionary in one definition states as a noun, it is a “particular position or point in space”, in this sense it is a physical location. In contrast to the physical location, it can also be intangible. Also as a noun, the word place is used to describe “an abstract mental location”. This is clearly a lot of meaning for a five-letter word. “Place” shapes our everyday experience from our home to the town we live in, to the place we work. We are continually influenced by place.
I believe most everyone recognizes an interesting or engaging place, but describing it and determining why they “feel different” about certain locations is often fleeting.
Statements like “place matters” or it has a “sense of place” are often used to capture the idea of a given location and the feeling we experience in these locations. Perhaps most famously, in 1937, Gertrude Stein wrote in “Everbody’s Autobiography”, “there is no there, there” as she described her childhood home and the city of Oakland, California. This phrase today has been used in the call for urban revitalization most often as many suburban communities have simply developed in uncreative sprawling roads and shopping centers without character or significant identity.
Place is significant in our lives and the landscape in which we live. When we walk a field, a shoreline, or a tree-lined farm lane, we know when we are somewhere interesting. Seeing and feeling “there is a there, there” resonates.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to follow that tree-lined lane of cedars up to this place, Kingston Hall, where my family now calls home. Kingston Hall has an incredible sense of place to me and I knew I wanted to be here more than ten years ago. The “there” that is here is an outcome of many families and individuals that have cared for this farm, its structures, and its place. In July of 2021, my family became the next chapter of this storied property that is more than 220 years old.
In the coming months, via our Land Group blog, I will share some of these stories as we work to manage the history, agriculture, wildlife, and habitats of this place, Kingston Hall. Onward and be well.