THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE
Orion readers write about their homeground
FOUR BLOCKS NORTH of my house in Salt Lake City is Liberty Park, one of
those great urban places where you might
see any manner of strange and wonder-
ful things: a drum circle where people
dance with hula hoops and fire; oddball
sports like bicycle polo, sword fighting,
and Quidditch; a carousel with wooden
horses; an Andean condor at the aviary
who plays tug-of-war with the zookeeper.
Probably the strangest thing I saw at the
park was the kidnapped Elizabeth Smart,
veiled and submissive, wading barefoot in
a fountain. (Of course, I didn’t recognize
her until the news reported her abduction
by possible polygamists—Utah scandals
often veer toward the surreal.)
The birds came back, eventually. This
winter my eleven-year-old daughter and I
went to take pictures of the usual California
gulls, mallards, and Canada geese. Then
we looked up, and there was a bald eagle
perched in the tree above, eyeing the ducks.
Right in the middle of the city! I told my
daughter that when I was her age, eagles
were endangered because people used pesticides that made their eggshells too thin.
Of all the things I’ve seen in Liberty Park,
that eagle may be the most wonderful.
Prudence Island, Rhode Island
DEAR VERMON T, I’m fond of your quaint white villages and graceful rolling hills, yes, but
it’s the other stu= that brought me back:
your hippy cabins and rusted cars, your
outhouses and hard-luck Budweiser-at-nine-a.m. hillside farms, your renegade
marijuana patches and mustard-and-teal-colored trailers flanked by creeks and hollows and gravel pits and pines.
I came back for your ghosts. The ones
I’ve known and the ones I haven’t. Their
stone walls and cellar holes and woodland
graveyards scrawled with names: Zippo-rah, Ebenezer, Faith, Desire.
I came back for your water: Indian Love
Call and the Whetstone Brook and South
Pond, the skin’s memory of skinny-dipping
at night, of the pond’s early fog, lifting.
I came back for your woods, this northern boundary where deciduous and coniferous meet—hemlock, spruce, maple,
birch, and pine—and the creatures it
holds: fox and fisher, moose and coyote,