stoneham, andover, tewkesbury

I was just reading over the upcoming November 1 How We Spend Our Days post by Mari Strachan (which is wonderful).

In her post, Mari recites the names of some Welsh towns, each one of which sounds magical. Her list reminded me of a list I had jotted down in June on my way to Vermont.

I flew into Boston and was driving on 93 N to Montpelier, Vermont. The signs announced the towns:


Is it just my love of the northeast that transforms the names of these towns into music? Or is it the fact that the names are unfamiliar to me–in the sense that I’m not usually driving by these towns?

Yesterday, I was driving from Columbus to Birmingham. I passed signs for Opelika, Auburn, Alexander City, Sylacauga, Pelham. I didn’t make any notes.

Perhaps I’m being unfair to the Alabama towns not to list them vertically.

10 thoughts on “stoneham, andover, tewkesbury

  1. Counting the days to the post from Mari Strachan, an author who informs my work thanks to you. But for today, let’s see. Chatham, Eastham, Brewster, Wellfleet, Truro. Strachan and the Cape, two of the many from the list of our connections. Miss you.


  2. Georgia towns do it for me, Cynthia! Their names are so romantic, but I imprinted on the landscape as a boy, and I think it takes some such deep connection for romance, for resonance. The names of just about any place are poetry, even in the East, which I dislike, and in Ohio, which seem very bland to me. But what’s bland about the best place name in the world: Knockemstiff, not two hours from here?


  3. The area where I live is called Jæren. The name in itself is not very poetic, but its meaning can be:
    The Norse form of the name was Jaðarr. The name is identical with the word jaðarr m ‘edge, brim’. Geographical we are at the edge of the big ocean – frightening, but also tempting …


  4. It’s so interesting, Richard, that I’ve never thought about place names like this before–as poetry, as magic. And with your affection for the names of Georgia towns, the magic must come in part from our individual associations. Still laughing at Knockemstiff. Good to hear from you.


  5. Sigrun, great to hear from you again. How do you pronounce Jaeren?

    At the edge of the big ocean–wow. Definitely frightening but also tempting. And it makes me think of the misty gray-blue expanse on the left side of the Golden Gate Bridge as I’m driving from San Francisco to Sausalito.


  6. Æ (lower case: æ) is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic. As a letter of the Old English Latin alphabet, it was called æsc (“ash tree”) after the Anglo-Saxon futhorc rune ᚫ (), which it transliterated; its traditional name in English is still ash (IPA: /æʃ/).


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