This past weekend I had the good fortune to spend a few days with my girlfriend and her family in a rustic cabin just west of Nashville. As you can see from these photographs, the cabin was built on a small ridge above a meandering creek. The property is set in an area where small farms and rural life are only a short drive from the urban distractions of the city. While walking along the creek beds, woods, and meadows, the thick blanket of pine needles and fallen leaves crunching under foot reminded me of my time as kid growing up in the suburbs outside of Nashville. The small thickets of woods and open pastures I used to play in as a child are almost all developed now with suburban neighborhoods of similar houses stacked all too neatly along paved roads. Spending time in this area makes me grateful to have grown up in the earlier stages of that suburban development when we kids were able to create our own bike trails, play in the lakes, or hunt for crawdads in the creek beds nearby. The area also reminds me of a frequent tension I feel lately between desiring (or romanticizing?) a more quiet, private life closer to nature and the excitement and opportunities of the urban life I mostly lead, even in a modest-sized city. No doubt, there are advantages to both, and the bourgeois ideal I hold is to figure out a way to have a life that splits time between both. In the meantime, I'm happy to know these undeveloped areas are just down the highway, quietly surrounding the city and infusing it with the local character and traditions happily co-opted by the city's posh retailers, merchants, and restauranteurs. There are certainly worse places to look for market inspiration, and I must say I'm a sucker for it all.
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