Shaped by Place

"A shore pine in offshore wind," by Mark Fletcher.

Living between forest and sea, I have one eye to the wind and the other to water. I live in a remote small town tucked against a temperate rainforest that sees over 70 inches of rain each year. It is habit now to search for water's sneaky mark, along each seam and crevice, every window and door.

On this rugged shore, I am shaped by landscape, sculpted by the harsh practicalities of living on water's moody rim. I am living on edge, against a churning sea. Even my dreams are water-logged. I am wading, flooded, soaked. Everywhere leak and loss.

For the last 12 hours, I am braced against a steady storm. A frenzied mix of drenching rain and 100 mile per hour winds have toppled trees, turned trucks, closed roads, pounded doors and rattled glass. All night, windows heave, and tree limbs knock and pop against the house.

This morning I wake, blearied and headached, to the same soaking rain. Lights flicker and tease. Several hours into morning, there is no hope of sun and little light, just a dark gray sky a shade brighter than night.

And yet, and yet. The storm will pass, as they always do. The rain will cease. Beauty will return, brilliant enough to make me ache. The forever ocean. A forest so green and lush it seems make-believe. The trees here touch sky, touch something in me endless and tender.

There is tension in this chasm, a beautiful contradiction that urges introspection, expression, words. I am dry and safe, and shaped — very shaped — by this place.


Are you shaped by place? How does landscape and weather influence your writing?