It has been so long since I have heard wind rustling leaves on trees; I had forgotten how it can sound like the ocean when the wind picks up and the branches sway and the leaves rustle. We have a steady wind from the south, and the new spring leaves sound like ocean waves. A rearrangement of atoms, air to water, air and leaves colliding, water rushing and crashing.
The breeze and the ocean, they each carry a constellation of atoms. And just a small shift of those atoms, like a twist of genetics, or a change in time and place will change everything: fur or feathers, skin or scales, this century or a few before, or even back to the last evolutionary era.
I sometimes wonder if genetics or strands of DNA can carry with them a sense of geographical place, a sort of muscle memory of home. I have moved so much all my life; I have never considered any one place to be my home. One side of my family has lived in upstate New York for hundreds of years and it is there, driving through, that I sometimes feel what I imagine it feels like to call a long-time familiar place home. We will round the curves of Route 40 in Easton, or in some places of Greenwich, Albany, or Saratoga, and I feel it, a sense of place, a feeling as if belonging, like fitting in a puzzle piece, or the magnets of an electronic lock all lining up. The feeling, if distilled to its essence, is a sense of utter calm. This place was once home to family, there was their house, this a road they knew well, but two hundred some odd years ago. There is the Hudson River, there is Saratoga Battlefield where some of them fought, this the farm that overlooks the valley that they tended, hundreds of acres, before tractors existed. I think I could recognize these places blindfolded, just by the feeling of place, in some parts of New York. A simple rearrangement of atoms and DNA, perhaps the genetics of familiar patterns, a century or two later. Or is it the place itself, and the sense of place that this side of my family also felt, and were drawn to back then? I have run into a similar feeling in a city and village an ocean away, but New York is so much closer to where I live now.
And now, back at my home in Vermont the southerly wind blows the new spring leaves, and the chickens rustle in their coop, settling on their roosts for the night. The southerly wind is steady, a warm breeze, the leaves still sound like the ocean. A slight rearrangement of atoms, air and water, time and place, fur or feathers, skin or scales.