Excuse me if I share an epiphany. It’s kind of like sharing a dream, and often just as uninteresting, but I think this one is relevant.
I began the day as usual with dawn not quite awakened, the smell of pine and greenery everywhere and the misty quiet interrupted only by the thwap, thwap, thwap of my feet on the blacktop, when a feeling of great good fortune flew into me like a squadron of pelicans gliding low over the water.
I realized that an ability to see and smell and feel beauty is a privilege, not a right. Like throwing pots or making the perfect pesto, it has to be practiced and valued and enjoyed. Like the ability to relax your knees to the floor in a cross-legged position, it has to be flexed, over and over again.
Those who live here practice and flex this ability full-time. And that’s an increasing number of us. Our population has increased by 8.2%, according to the earliest of the Census data released this week (see the story in this week’s paper). We’ve finally edged past the 30,000-people threshold. We’ve been growing every year, according to the historic census data, but it’s normally in smaller ways and with little backslides in between. But this time, over the past decade, 2,281 people moved here from elsewhere and now call this place home.
You can live anywhere. Those who choose to live here may find it easier to practice seeing beauty with so much surrounding us. That’s not to say that a person who lives with city smog or the smells of large animal operations or the dust from gravel roads aren’t witnesses to beauty. But this peninsula has the kind that speaks to those who live here with an unimpaired purity. It fills the senses, the lungs. You can almost taste it.
When we’re trying to knit together differences whose ends don’t meet, this is one thing we all share. This privilege, this unifier, this commonality, this maybe unconscious desire to settle in a place where beauty can be practiced, valued, enjoyed and flexed.