June 21, 2012, Washington, DC: I’m planning to take a little staycation. I’m not going anywhere and I’ll most certainly be back — just taking a brief hiatus from regular blog posts to reflect on this year’s project and collect my thoughts concerning what happens next. New ideas are keeping me up at night and I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to sharing them with you soon.
Before I go, I invite you to participate here on Neighborhood Nomad. Your stories about why you love where you live are intriguing and inspiring. They reinforce the power of place and they remind us of the extent to which our geography shapes us. Collecting and producing reader interviews has been one of the best parts of this effort so far, and every single one of you has distinctive stories to tell about the rhythms of your home, your neighborhood, your town or your city. Shoot me a note. Tell me more about your hometown.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
June 16, 2012, Irvington, VA: We are back in Irvington for our first anniversary! We are wine tasting at The Dog and Oyster (now a vineyard with a name!), swimming beneath tall pine trees, revisiting Hope and Glory Inn, taking an evening boat cruise on Carter’s Creek, dining at Trick Dog Cafe, retracing our steps and reliving our memories. This place, like many, is home now. We are thrilled to be back.
“It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. ‘I am watching you — are you watching yourself in me?'”
June 15, 2012, Washington, DC: The first entry on this blog is dated June 16, 2011. 365 days ago. In reality, the launch of this year-long project is a little softer than that — the idea had been stewing for months, but was birthed in its current structure just as we kicked off our wedding weekend. The first several entries were scribbled down in a blue plastic notebook bought in a Santorini drugstore on our honeymoon before they went live in the blogosphere.
This weekend, in other words, is a first anniversary celebration in more ways than one.
To mark the milestone, the next few posts will reflect on what’s happened here during the course of the year – beginning with a roundup of ten of my favorite photos that emerged from Neighborhood Nomad: One Year of Travel Through My Many Hometowns. I’ve loved having an excuse this year to lug around my fancy camera, test out new photography apps on the iPhone, and document my surroundings through various lenses. Read more to see a handful of the photos that have made an impression…
“Even when the east excited me most, even when I was keenly aware of its superiority to the broad, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio, with their interminable inquisitions which only spared children and the very old -even then it had always for me a quality of distortion. ”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
May 21, 2012, Washington, DC: The traffic piles up on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. approaching Bridgehampton. By dinnertime in Amagansett, the Meeting House on the square is full, families and old friends stuffed in tight beneath golden light, sharing beet salads and mussels and sipping good wine. They’ll work it off tomorrow at one of the many Pilates or yoga studios in East Hampton, maybe try on the stunning clothes hanging in the store windows along the way. They’ll wear them well, I assure you.
Late at night, music booms from the Stephen Talkhouse, where bouncers will charge a $10 cover on Friday and $20 on Saturday. The cab fare home and a morning omelette at Babette’s will be pricy, like you never left Manhattan.
Welcome to the Hamptons, where the crowds have arrived, the people are gorgeous and the costs are steep. It’s not even Memorial Day.
“‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: ‘messing-about-in-boats; messing… about in boats-or with boats… In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it.'”
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
May 14, 2012, Washington, DC: Maine’s Moosehead Lake is somewhere else I’ve been just once, despite how firmly this day there is seared into my memory. That afternoon, we were simply messing around in boats, splashing and swimming in freezing cold water. It was an hour or so before dinner and we’d spent the day canoeing from the base of Mt. Kineo to a campsite on a nearby island. It was the penultimate day of a two-week backcountry trip — a trip that required not one van ride, not one grocery store, not one stop in town. We had left our jumping off point in civilization on foot and we’d hike back in the same way, just twelve kids and two adults with the food and shelter we’d need for weeks strapped to our backs. Canoes would await us halfway and we’d portage them back to the headquarters of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School.
May 3, 2012, In transit on Amtrak: It’s that time of year again when I vow to learn how to garden. On Sunday, I visited our neighborhood hardware store called Frager’s to pick up my annual supply of soil, plants and seeds. It was a sunny day and the outdoor garden shop was filled with people deliberating over the plants that suited them best and finding the ones they could keep alive. I lugged my selections home and got to work preparing the flower boxes on the back deck like I do every year, reading about the seeds, planting the flowers, convincing myself that this will be the year I’m finally successful in this endeavor. But I can’t begin to pretend I know what I’m doing. I’m not good at this. People say it’s simple, but I find it hard to grow roots.
‘”The Grand”, as it is known to all who have had the pleasure to live under it, or ski beside it, or hike around it, or climb to the top of it, is more than the highest mountain in what many would call the continental United States’ most spectacular range. It is a magnet, a motherlode, a home base to a breed of people who have no home. Not just people who ski and climb, but skiers and climbers, the ones who relegate real-life activities like laundry and relationships to those couple of weeks in the spring and fall when the lifts have closed but it’s too slick to climb, or the snow has come but the runs aren’t yet open.”
-Pam Houston, On (Not) Climbing the Grand Teton
April 30, 2012, Washington, DC: It was the summer of 1998 when two friends and I got in the car to drive to Jackson.