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Serendipity – One of my favorite words. I like what this word popularized by Horace Walpole, means too. The dictionary defines it as the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident – like accidentally knocking down an old copy of Moby-Dick from the bookshelf and discovering a wad of currency notes within its long unopened pages – or accidentally missing an exit on the way to the doctor’s office and ending up on some of the most breathtakingly beautiful roads you ever drove by.
That happens to me quite often. Not being showered with long lost currency notes in books about metaphoric giant whales, but getting lost on some of the best scenic routes.
Like it happened this morning, when we deliberately turned a deaf ear to the GPS politely requesting us in a clipped British accent to make a “U-Turn when possible.”
We drove along some quiet countryside roads. It had rained hard last night and every kind of vegetation worth its name wore a scrubbed clean look that only a night under God’s own shower can give. Right now, we are at the cusp of Summer and Fall and leaves are debating at the threshold of turning color. Once they make up their minds, the whole place is going to explode in a riot of colors-reds, scarlets, oranges, ochres and yellows, in sharp contrast against the dark green of the somber evergreen conifers. It is like Mother Nature decides to put on one final act of defiance and steps out in her most flamboyant outfit that could outdo even the brilliant colors of Spring and cocks a snook at Ol’ Man Winter before he sweeps in, cloaked in his dark, solemn furs, with his sack full of freezing winds, chilling frost and virginal snow.
Sturdy ranch style houses squatted firm on well-manicured lawns and hoary old oaks nodded their wise heads sagely, listening to the sad tales told by the weeping willows. Water fowls were getting ready to bid goodbye to the reeds and birches that grew by the ponds, before they flew south for the winter. Mallards walked about showing off their brilliant emerald heads, pompous geese fussed about, doing what else, but goose stepping and swans forgot all about their legendary grace and poise for a moment and went bottoms up at the sight of fresh food swimming by.
Soon, the creeks will turn brown. I don’t know how they do it, but soon they will flow like rich milky tea, between the bare branches of trees lining their banks. Right now, they are getting goose bumps from the droplets of water leftover from the rains, that the leaves are flicking at them in an amorous play.
And what was even better was the fact that the crass signs of Halloween have not yet started showing up in these places, unlike in the city where houses are already sporting evil witches on mailboxes and moldy coffins on the front lawn, despite Halloween being a good six weeks away. Out here, all we saw were occasional pumpkin patches with mellow ripening pumpkins lolling about and making the best of the watery sunlight, before being carted off to be mutilated into evilly grinning Jack o’ Lanterns.
The refreshing ride early in the morning set me thinking about an article I read yesterday, which was being enthusiastically shared by Raleigh-niwasis all over the social networking media.
Business Week magazine has chosen Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina on whose outskirts I live, as the best place to live in the United States. I agree this city, named after Sir Walter Raleigh (yes, he of the ‘cloak in the mud puddle’ fame) is a great place to live. But what exactly makes it a great place goes beyond the metrics by which it has been chosen? The three excellent universities (Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [UNC] and NC State University), exceptional medical centers, 867 listed restaurants, 51 museums, a bustling social scene, great schools for both academics and art and 12,512 acres of parkland definitely contribute to making this an excellent place to live.
To each his own, while some enjoy being part of the vanguard of technology at the Research Triangle Park, or at the numerous Pharma companies battling it out in research labs to come up with the elixir of life or a cure for the common cold, it is probably the happy melting pot of cultures that this place is fast turning into that attracts others or the elite golfing communities that reek of good money and elegant lifestyles or the eclectic collection of art that its museums and galleries offer. But my heart soars to none of these.
What I love best about this place is the abundance of greenery around. The quiet wooded trails, often running alongside little brooks and rills, babbling and giggling by, as they share jokes with the rocks and pebbles, well preserved extensive parks, placid water bodies and rolling farmlands. And I love how great red barns are just a cow’s moo away from a plexi glass and steel monolith.
And that is what makes up for that sense of loss that threatens to engulf me every time I think of home and what I might not go back to…
Read as originally posted in www.yentha.com