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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

The view from home

We have been home for three days, the time feels both longer and shorter. One thing for sure, it doesn’t feel like I was never gone. It’s  cloudy and full of tones of gray today, a good day for settling in. It reminds of the very earliest days of fall in the far southern reaches of the Americas, even though so much is different. Then again, I guess the turnings at the equinox,  whether Spring or Fall, share in more ways then they differ. Still, I am surprised how standing by small pond in the dull afternoon in the midst of  southern Indiana’s rolling hills reminds of the farthest length of South America. The glaciers didn’t reach here, and there you can feel the breath of ice even in the sun.

Walking the woods this morning not a single tree felt similar to those in Patagonia or Tierra de Fuego, The world above and below distinctly different;  sounds, textures, shapes and scents. There I felt like the world was simultaneously primordial and new. Here the land feels gentled, there it felt raw and bared. And the quiet has a different weight. The sky seemed closer there and the horizon not aline but a curve. The place where water met land only a suggestion of difference hunting at the proximity of the vastness of sea and the southernmost continent, Antarctica.

I just finished reading Terra Incognito by Sara Wheeler. I began it in the northern part of Patagonia, Chile, right after finishing her Travels in a Thin Country. Both were written in the 90s. I happened upon her looking for books about travel in South America and am surprised I never read, or even heard of her before. Sort of a biography of a land, mixed with travelogue, history and her own reflections. I found both books intriguing, though I have to admit I was ready to be done with the book about Antarctica as we were flying north to Buenos Aires. It wasn’t until today as I was finishing the book, over inundated with information,  that I realized exactly what kept me reading. A shared notion of why we travel, “Despite everything I had gone through to get where I was….it seemed to me then that the external journey meant nothing at all.

Grateful for the quiet hum of my house and the end of the road where we live, I’ll travel from here for the next while. The journey continuing, the wall clock ticking, the comforting logs alight in the wood burning stove.

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