village observations

A couple of things I observed
about central European villages we saw.

i. I noticed how many
were dominated and defined by two steeples
(usually one protestant church and one catholic),
and one castle.
And that’s both their skyline and their history
in an image.

ii. I noticed how many
have such clearly defined borders—
houses clustered together,
(often oriented inwards—
toward a town square, for example,
and into courtyards),
often within town walls, yes,
but with borders defined against a river,
against the wild wood,
under the cliffs or the steep rise of a mountain.

Rare was the lonely homestead beyond the borders.

These observations
suggested to me
the interdependence of the community,
and both a protective and a defiant assertiveness—

defined against untamed surroundings,
but defined within them.

It’s the other way around
in most of my experience.
We stress the independence of the individual.

We do actually maintain the protective and defiant assertiveness;
it’s just gotten uglier and smaller.

And we know pockets of the natural world
surrounded by the not.
I don’t like that as much.

Oh, it’s so much easier—
so much more convenient—

But what have we lost,
no longer surrounded by the unknown and dangerous,
no longer united in acknowledgement
of our need of each other—
our responsibility for each other?
What have we lost when the dominant sense
of our surroundings
is tamed—
mapped and owned,
known and used?

What have we lost,
and can we get it back?


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