Sunday, January 21, 2007

Names and Places

We've been living on this bit of land for most of twenty years and I've tried to come up with a name for it intermittently since we first began building our house. I've tried to find a gaelic phrase that means "high place where water lingers" and we've toyed with "Aspen Grove" and other names, but I may have finally hit upon something while I was drifting between sleep and wakefulness this morning. Once again, procrastination may have yielded something of value. Or was it patience?

I was half-dreaming about being in a rock/folk band and hit upon a few clever names for the group but I woke after I thought of a phrase and began trying to decide how to spell the words. I'll explain after I tell these other stories (it helps to build the suspense):

Years ago, a friend of ours built a cabin out away from any other human habitations, and had a naming contest for her place. Our father won the contest by taking the word "shall" and adding "land", and in so doing honored both this friend's determination and the place she had chosen to live. It also implied the Hebrew term for peace (shalom). She didn't stay many years, finding that it was too far out.

I had tried living alone in a tipi one winter long ago, and had been in town for supplies or something. As I snowshoed back to the tipi I found the words "far out" stamped out in the snow near my shelter. It was.

I tried living in a resort town and working in a factory down south (because jobs were hard to come by, here in western New York) for almost a decade, but came back because all that stimulation didn't suit me. I've learned since then that even small college-town stimulation is hard on my nervous and psychological systems. So we've returned to the "far out" option.

We are far enough out to not have drunken students yelling and screaming and waking us up in the night. We're not so far but what we hear cars going by on the highways nearby, and I can get to the Fire Hall to drive an engine or ambulance in seven minutes.

But why not just call this place "home"? Somehow that was not enough for me. This place and this house have a sort of personality that is still growing and changing, as we are. I think that what came to me this morning while my brain was working between alpha and theta wavelengths, I suppose, was something that encapsulates why we live where we do, and how we do it. It was Wood Not or Would Knot, and I think I've settled on the latter.

We made many choices about where to build our home, and how we have been building it, that we might, in retrospect, wish to change. But I have lived with plenty of regret, and tire of it. Would Knot posits that same sort of determination my father recognized in our friend, and we've had to learn. Would Knot also posits the connection we have been making to this place and its creatures. I think it's a good name.

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About Me

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I've been a number of things over the years: husband, father, environmental technical specialist, college instructor, carpenter, volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, student of Lakota and Japanese languages, technical writer, process engineer, research technician, IT technician, emergency dispatcher, etc.