Just last week I noticed that a neighbor on our backwoods dirt road has hung an eight-foot-long burnt-wood sign, "QUIETUDE," at the end of her driveway. She is a psychologist who lives here part-time and hosts country retreat weekends for city people who pay a lot of money to sit in a field and do role plays.
When we finally moved here, after years of owning the land and traveling here just to walk in the fields, I suggested to Husband that we name the place. I thought it might be triumphant to call our long-awaited residence by some name, like a country estate. Like Scarlett O'Hara's Tara, Wright's Fallingwater, Daniel Chester French's Chesterwood, or Millay's Steepletop. Or even something more humble. I recognized a sign on another nearby property, "The Land," for what it was: simple identification. We had for so long referred to this acreage as "the land," ("This weekend, let's go out and walk around the land.") that I knew those people must have been doing the same thing.
Husband was derisive. His joy in living out here on the country hill derived from the anonymity it offered. Our mailbox, a third of a mile from the house, carries only our box number, not even our house number, and not our name. He didn't want relatives, of whom he considered himself well rid, to be taking Sunday drives and finding us. Fair enough. I didn't want them dropping in on us either.
We remain unnamed, and now it seems silly to me to call this place by a name. It is its own wild place, grand and unrestrained. Sometimes I feel as if we don't even own it, that it cannot be owned, that it is only loaned to us; it has that strong an identity of its own. Were I to try name it, I would never be able to discern what that name should be.
It is ineffable.