Yesterday Linus and I went down the winding Skyline, dodging cyclists every hundred yards, testing my manual driving prowess, zipping between dim forest canopy and brilliant ridgetop. The road itself didn’t feel much different than the last time I drove it in the fall, which is one of the strangest things about this place: a total lack of the markers, namely weather patterns, I used to associate with the passing of time. I am assured they exist, but have not quite registered the subtlety of whether or not the orange poppies are blooming hidden among tall grasses.

Midway on yesterday’s loop was the Wallace Stegner memorial bench, made of stones set into the hillside, looking out over the Santa Cruz mountains in their hazy shades of green and blue, at a point in the hike that was almost too bright, too sunny too …much. And in the 24 hours since I’ve found myself thinking more and more about the man, remembering especially Angle of Repose and the strange relief of recognizing a place I’ve never been as my brain linked remembered scenes to the new sights scanned by my eyeballs.

I should say more about Stegner, should flesh out some of that relief and wonder, but for now it is enough to revisit some of the things he wrote and believed about the West–where I am now, again–and about the concept of home, which is of course my long-standing personal preoccupation.

I keep circling back to two passages in particular, from my beloved Angle and from Marking the Sparrow’s Fall: The Making of the American West: 

I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely. We have had too many divorces, we have consumed too much transportation, we have lived too shallowly in too many places.

American individualism, much celebrated and cherished, has developed without its essential corrective, which is belonging.  

So here is my placeholder post, reminding me to think about what it is to live shallowly, what it is to belong. How best to be someplace new, again.