In-between places call to me, so it is no surprise that my address is a classic New England fiction. Shelburne Falls is a village marked off where two towns meet, but is not itself a legally incorporated entity. The two towns do not even properly join in the village, divided instead by the rocky bed of the Deerfield River as it rolls down to the falls that give the place its name. Even the bridges that stitch the two banks together draw visitors into the heart of its “in-betweenness,” emphasizing the constant flow at its center.
But my husband and I live in the hills above the village center, in yet another in-between place. Our house sits between ridges lined with towering trees, the bulk of earth both shelter and screen. Within our little valley, we look out across both wet and dry, a landscape of meadow, woods, and water that changes as the weather and our meandering brook decree.
Appropriately, perhaps, our house was unfinished when we purchased it, and it still remains somewhere between old and new. Our lives within it sometimes seem a little out of time as well; we often heat with wood, and use natural light as much as we can, but the Internet is always available, technology close at hand. And the overall feel of the place is somewhere between the wild and the tame, especially since many other creatures also love the places in between.
Since we have lived here, this land has been home or hunting ground to bear and deer, fisher and mink, beaver and porcupine, coyote and otter, fox and bobcat, hawk and owl and heron and countless other birds. Wood ducks nested near our pond last year, and wild turkeys routinely echo in the woods. Frogs and insects bring spring and summer nights alive with their rhythmic calls. Like life in any community, sharing a home with these non-human neighbors has brought its own mix of conflict and joy, but we are ultimately grateful for the chance to share their love of in-between places.