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Snapshot of the author at Mount Princeton, Colorado, ca. 1981–1983
The conflict between here and there is a central tension in my life. During my first forty years, I spent half my life in the glaciated woods of the northeastern U.S. and the other half in the Rocky Mountain West while living in twenty-three different houses. Stepping foot in Wyoming as an adolescent changed my life. The immense skies, dramatic mountains, and sweeping vistas resonated with my soul. The sublime was real for me, and I kept finding ways to go back until I finally described myself as "geographically bilingual"—equally at home in each region.

For a time I settled in Colorado in order to be close to Wyoming, yet I never returned until I began my Yellowstone project. Later, when I moved to New Mexico for graduate school, the lack of water required an adjustment for me, but ended up succumbing also to the beauties of the desert. I saw benefits in each landscape, and my vocabulary of place and sense of self grew. Still, I envied people with close ties to a single place, one tied to family and where one could call up memories tied to terrain across generations—an experience I knew I'd never have.

The house I lived in the longest in my childhood sat on ten acres of land that shaped my imagination. The property was bounded by a brook, a stream, and farms. These spaces, once defined by fields and rotating crops, are now a golf club and housing development. When I was young, however, I could roam them at will. My best friend and I had many adventures. One of our favorite places was a small grove of young eastern white pines tucked away across the brook some distance from the house. We'd go down the big hill, through the allée of Buttonwoods we called "Lover's Lane," over a post and rail fence, through the woods, and across the brook, which meant jumping over two gaps in the gravity dam. No one remembered why the pond had been formed. Once we arrived, lights winds often whispered through the long-fingered needles filtering sunlight on a dense mat of fallen, yellowed needles that muffled the sounds of our movements; we had found a sacred grove.

My wife and I met while we were students in Boulder. A pattern of movement, west and east and west, unfolded over fifteen years. Back in Boulder, then in Denver, we started our family; we moved back east not long after I turned forty. The pull of my large, extended family outweighed the sublime with children in tow. After five years in Philadelphia, we moved to the quiet corner of northeast Connecticut where we have now lived for more than twenty years. It feels as much like home as any other place I've lived. My memories of raising three sons are tied to Colorado, Philadelphia, and Connecticut—a subset of my life. I recall the houses where our boys were born, each dog who chased balls in which yards, summer travels, winter storms, and the Christmases my mother spent with us in each of our homes before she passed away; it goes on. Our older boys have moved back to Colorado and our family ties there remain strong; we'll never be entirely situated in one place or the other. The longing to be west when I'm east or vice versa continues, but now I understand: I, too, have memories across generations. They're not located in one place; they're located in the many places that have formed not only me but, most significantly, in my family.

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