The Buzz Dorne ranch house, circa 1970, with oversized lawn, basketball hoop on the garage, paved driveway, on River Road in Darby is my nod to modern middle class housing. I guess I'm a romantic fool, but it always makes me a little sad to see a suburban-style house and yard in rural parts of New Hampshire. In my view, the landscape dies a little.
I'm not the only one who feels this way. In conferences with my students I alway ask them where they grew up. Those from small towns, farms, big cities, and exotic places always have something to say and write about their environment. Not the students from suburbia. They leave the impression that something was left out of their childhood, and they almost never write about the suburban environment. When I ask them about this empty space in their creativity, they can never give me a good explanation, except that their memories of home are boring, that there's nothing distinctive about their communities. And, really, they don't care.
I associate my creativity with my sense of place. It puzzles me that many of my talented students, some of whom have gone on to publish books, do not need a sense of place to be creative. And some students with a feeling for place don't necessarily have a feeling for language. Maybe "place" is a gismo in dna; some have it, some don't, and while those writers who have it invariably use in their work, those who don't have it can get along just fine without it.