The name of A Place

Feb 22

One thing that strikes any American traveling abroad is the extensive history the other nations of the earth possess. There may be cathedrals in renowned cities a millennium old, or a bakery in a humble township that had been in continuous operation for centuries. The folk of the old world know which pastures to graze their cattle to make the right milk for the right cheese, what terroir is best suited for a specific wine grape.

Here in America, our history relatively new, we are only now beginning to learn the land in such ways. Only now are appellations becoming apparent: Russian River for Pinot Noir, Colorado for mutton. Thus are the names of a place called out and recognized, as partners with our civilization.

But there are other, deeper names that go beyond practical functions. I’ve stood on the piazza built over a site sacred to Attis and Cybele. I’ve dipped my fingers in water drawn from the well of Niniane. Someday, I plan to walk the Camino Del Santiago and, in one of the great pilgrimages of the West, seek vision.

Once, the hills, forests and streams about me were named. In days gone by they were inhabited by mystical serpents with jewels in their heads, little people with hair down to the ankles, killer witches that croaked like ravens as they cleaved the sky. Not anymore. Only the river, the Long Man, Oconee, keeps the lore of the men and women that preceded me. The First People are gone-taken West long ago, and the names went with them. I make my way amid the  local world and wonder what the name was for the Granite Seats By The River. I wonder what spirit presides over the Stone Spring.  The rituals for the seasons, the trees and the herds held now only by ghosts unrecognized.

Sometimes, I sit on the hill overlooking the river, and wonder when there will be names for them again.


  1. The names are not gone or forgotten, only unremembered.
    The places know. They knew before we knew. We only have to learn to listen to them again.

  2. Peter Ristuccia /

    Well said, my man. Well said.

  3. This is nice. Very magical. I have always believed that the earth was full of name that have been long forgotten. The elves sleep as do the river gods. Maybe someday they will awake and return.


  4. Thank you very much Cassiopeia. I am happy you liked it. Yes, someday, perhaps they will return to us.

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