Settler

settler
" … recognizing ourselves as we'd not ever experienced ourselves before."

Three days into these temporary digs and I notice myself settling in. That first day, I felt like a blind man, complacently following those who already knew the way. The second day, I allowed myself limited excursions, finding the grocery twice and returning without the navigation system keeping watch over me. The third day, I flew solo, relying upon my budding sense of direction to guide me without disappointing myself. I broadened my horizons, even guiding The Muse through a neighborhood I realized that I suddenly and surprisingly knew better than she did. I even took advantage of the public transportation, a great and pleasing gift to any visitor uninterested in actually driving around strange country.

I expect that my pioneer forebears followed a similar pattern when assimilating into their new digs.
That first iffy day gave no suggestion of emerging ease, hackles raised against unanticipatable hazards, but slowly relaxing into the new place. Pioneers aren't settlers, the primary distinction being that pioneers continually move on while settlers set down roots. While a pioneer need care little about local amenities beyond fresh water and fodder for their animals, a settler needs to secure for the longer term. He will survey the standing timber, looking for that suitable for constructing a home, and must necessarily care where the water flows from and to. Settlers seem more risk averse that pioneers, who must simply swallow much risk to even exist. Settlers seek safety before putting down roots.

I settle in rather reluctantly, accustomed to living out of my suitcase after only a few days on the road, I hesitate to fill the dresser drawers and hangers. I do laundry first, only relocating the clean stuff as if I were actually moving in here. I seek out reliable sources for coffee and bread and locate an accessible bookstore before accepting that I might have actually arrived. My guitar stays securely packed in its case until I've thoroughly cased this new joint. Once I board a streetcar or a local bus, I fancy myself almost passing for a local, a secret conceit fooling nobody but me, and even me, not all that convincingly. I travel to learn what life might be like over there, not to visit museums and tourist haunts which inevitably misrepresent the locals' day-to-day existence. I'd really rather visit a laundromat than a concert hall. I can visit a concert hall at home, but a local laundromat stands as a one-of-a-kind local artifact filled with humming real life.

I downloaded the local transit app this morning, so I'm feeling extremely good to go. I'm hopeful to get a little bit lost now, understanding that I probably possess the instincts to get myself found again. Getting lost might be one of the better ways to learn about any new place. Getting found again serves as the reward. The Muse and I agreed last night while strolling through The Garden District after a brief visit to The French Quarter, that we've attained the age where we'd rather stroll through a Garden District than stumble around the more noteworthy neighborhoods. Night blooming jasmine inspired us as we walked, evening breezes gratefully free of raucous come-ons and drunken revelers. A quiet evening discovering ourselves imbedded in an alien place seems like a genuine vacation to us. We can better imagine what living here might feel like as we float through its evening breeze with hardly a care left caring about. We're sure enough settlers now, recognizing ourselves as we'd not ever experienced ourselves before.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus