I was reading a New Yorker today, a profile of Gary Snyder, Zen poet and environmentalist. This passage made me feel validated and a little bit proud about our new life in the Cotswolds:
“Using Kitkitdizze [Snyder’s hand built house] as a prototype, he encourages others to inhabit more fully the places they live—settle down, get to know the neighbors (including in his conception, the plants and animals), join the school board and the watershed council, and defend the local resources and way of life. Place, he writes, should be defined by natural indicators, like rivers and the flora and fauna they support.”
Our Cotswold town is defined, literally named, for it’s place along one of Gloucestershire’s rivers. But it’s not the first time since moving to England that I’ve lived in a place named for its natural indicators. In London we live in Maida Hill, right next to it’s more glamorous cousin, Maida Vale. At one time hill and vale must have been obvious, but covered as they are now in pavement and plaster, it’s hard to make them out. That’s the excuse I’ll use for how I thought you spelled Maida Vale when I first moved here: Maid of Ale, a neighborhood I assumed was named for a long departed, much loved busty lady slinging tankards of beer.