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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

The where of it….

I live in a swath of green surrounded by trees I have never learned all the names of, though I promised myself I would. I even bought a book of Indiana trees. In New York I knew all the tree’s names, relearned them in Spain and again in San Francisco, but although I have lived here longer then anywhere else I cannot name what surrounds me.

I do pay attention; the changing color of the leaves, which happens all through the year from their tender openings in spring through the fuller greens of early summer to the very first turnings long before fall has actually begun. I just cannot tell which leaf belongs to which tree by name. The same with bird songs, I listen, I hear the different rhythms and melodies, the pitch and tone but I cannot categorize past the most basic groupings,

It seems the patience for learning to sort and group in that way is not mine. Perhaps it is part of what keeps me feeling like both a settler and a visitor at the same time.

With each step on the dirt path toward the field below I claim it as home and wonder at how I came to be here.

I wonder how much living where I live shapes my thoughts and actions, how much it determines who we are. I know that the greater arch of our lives , whether we hear birds or sirens, whether we take having enough to eat for granted, whether or not safe passage between where we are and where we want to go is something we even think about, changes the way we construct our daily lives. But how much does it change or affect who we are?

As I begin to shape the story I want to tell through my character’s voices how much do I need to know, how much will they reveal to me, how much should I tell?

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