Do you ever find yourself hauted by the subject of a panel? I've been thinking a lot about the magic of places ever since Minicon and the "Magic of St. Paul/Minneapolis" panel. I remember, too, sitting next to Charles DeLint at the previous Minicon talking about how places have personality and trying to get him to admit that's why urban fantasy resonates so strongly with readers -- which is to say that place magic is the kind of magic that people can readily agree feels "true."
There are a number of reasons why Valparasio has never appealed to me. No offense intended to anyone who lives here, because a lot of my reaction to it has to do with the fact that there was some family tension around Shawn's folk's move here. Shawn, of course, has been here a number of times now, what, with her father's illness, and she's noticed some things that really speak about the magic of THIS place.
They're brutal to their trees. You know how in Minneapolis/St. Paul the city cuts or trims tree limbs that are close to powerlines -- usually making the trees into strange "V"s with the center part mising? Well, in ValPo, they just hack off half the tree, leaving behind trees that look they they're perpetually being bent in a VERY Strong wind. Also, Shawn noticed that when they do tree removal, they don't really. They'll cut the tree off at the trunk and leave it sitting there... not the little bits of tree stumps that need digging out, but giant eigtheen foot... well, markers -- like tree grave markers. Intentional or not, it seems like this town hates trees.
Also, we were in Walgreen's today picking up "feminine supplies," and there was a nice guy there who smiled at me a couple of times, and smiling back, I realized he was the first black face I'd seen here -- EVER. Given how close this town is to Gary and Chicago, the lack of African Americans is just down right creepy. Where'd all the black people go? Because this town is very ethnic in other ways -- there's excellent Polish sausage and lots of authentic Greek resaurants and Latino/a faces here and there.
I think faeries like multicultural cities that are nicer to their trees.
Maybe I'm just grumpy because I never wanted Shawn's dad to move so far away, but the only magic this town seems to have going for it are the fireflies.... and the eagles.
That's been pretty awesome. Shawn's dad used to love to sit outside in the sun and watch the neighborhood. We've been keeping up the vigil for him, in his absence, and Shawn's brother Greg and his wife Barb have seen two eagles in the two days they were here. Someone once told me that eagles are grandfathers in some Native American cultures. So grandpa's come back to his favorite spots.