The Benediction of Place

I’ll turn forty in three years.

I recognize upon approaching this third score of years that the initial two have been largely peripatetic. The first score’s wanderings were undetermined by me, contingent upon my parents’ choices—graduate school, better jobs, a new house. Before the age of sixteen, I’d lived in ten different homes. My second score echoed the first for similar reasons, though its upheavals were at least ostensibly of my own choosing—the beginnings and ends of marriages, jobs, graduate schools.

Of all the places I’ve stopped and started, Mississippi will always be my home, a sort of default way of being as much as a place.

On sleepless nights, I close my eyes and trace the geography of the small town where my family spent the last twenty-five years, where I lived from fifth grade to high school graduation, and to which I have returned countless times, sometimes for months at a stretch. I map the homes along Grand Avenue in Yazoo City on the flat edge of the Delta, bestriding the last loess bluffs drenched with the new-grape smell of kudzu blossoms and the magenta extravagance of azaleas. [Read more…]

The Notecards of Paradise: 25 Years of Image

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary we are posting a series of essays from people who have encountered our programs over the years. Read the earlier installments, Stumbling into the Waterfall and Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out.

Guest post

By Linda Wendling

A Tuesday evening in Seattle. A cozy, one-room apartment on Queen Anne Hill overlooking bustling Nickerson and the shipping yards. If I step onto the balcony, I can see the Ballard Bridge and down the steps I can almost believe I see Rapunzel letting down her blue and yellow neon hair on the Fremont Bridge.

I am alone, my husband is in St. Louis, and I’m holding a mug of peppermint tea. I’m here because I’ve been selected by Image to receive its Milton Fellowship, providing me with a whole academic year to work on my first book (and more).

I have walked home from the Garfield Public Library—a cozy place to write if you don’t mind little kids climbing on the table beside you (I don’t)—and plunked down a rain-soaked bag of books—all research—on the kitchen counter.

Changing into a dry sweatshirt, I turn on the lamps and Zap Mama for atmosphere, and sit on the carpet. The sun is down, but I keep my windows open, all night long when I can. I like the sounds of Seattle, the poetry of rain, voices in traffic, music from a passing car radio to remind me that “one fine day, you’re gonna want me for your girl.”

I get up from the floor and go to my laptop. I add that moment to a story. Then I’m back on the floor beside the cooling tea, doing what makes me happy when a sharp knock at the door makes me jump.

[Read more…]