A sense of place

Do the scenes of our childhood imprint themselves on our souls, indelibly, so that they come along on the journey of our lives? Spending the past two months with my eldest sister, who has lived in Australia the past forty years, makes me wonder.

She's been happy in Australia, and it's a beautiful place to live. But something inside her still yearns for the Pacific Northwest. The mountains and forests, the always-present Mt. Rainier, the Sound and the ferryboats, the constant reminders of ample water. Not just rain, but the moist air and the lakes and ponds, the waterfowl, the rivers everywhere. We took them to check out the fly fishing on a local river, and my sister was so happy, she positively lit up from the inside.

Being here seemed to awaken senses that have been dormant on her previous visits, and she talked a lot about how the Northwest is in her genes. We talked a lot about this during her trip. Even though her life has been in Australia for more than 40 years, it hasn't erased her connection with her first home.

Our first move away from home was after college. We moved to the Tri-Cities, where nearly everyone we met came from someplace else. In fact, in all the years we were there, I only knew two people who were actually born and raised there. Everyone else came there for the jobs. And over the years, nearly all of our close friends have moved on, or moved home. Those two friends who were born and raised there? They're still there.

So all this contemplation makes me wonder. Is my childhood home, this place of water and mountains and green, so imprinted in me, so necessary to me, that I could never be completely happy anywhere else? I've spent time in so many places, and I appreciate those places for their natural beauty and quality of life. I've even found a few special places that I could imagine myself living.

But was that just wishful thinking?

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