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Searching for a soul

Katie Shaffer, Sierra Sun

I read an article in the February 2001 issue of the Utne Reader, which talked about searching for the soul of a city. The author claims that most of us ignore the magic of a place. I think she’s wrong, or at least I think she’s wrong about those of us who have made an alternative choice to live in a place like Truckee.

She lives in Washington, D.C., which she describes as “a city renowned for its hollow-hearted power-mongering.”

I feel very removed from that kind of mainstream America which I associate with lives that are high-strung, nervous and disconnected. Maybe I shouldn’t make such sweeping generalizations. However, after reading this article, I couldn’t help but think that we might be a little bit smarter than our suburban and city-dwelling counterparts in regard to our choice of where we live.

In the article, the author instructed her readers on how to discover your city’s soul, or in our case, our town’s soul.

For this week, I thought I would borrow her headings, and give a Truckee perspective on it.

“Unearth the original landscape. The essence of a place is closely tied to its landscape.”

We have Donner Lake and the Truckee River. We have numerous ridge tops. We have Martis Valley with its creeks and reservoirs. We have our magnificent views of Castle Peak, Tinkers Knob, Anderson Peak, Granite Chief and the Carson Range.

We are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty to not only look at, but to go out into and enjoy. Although all the recent development threatens to cover up some of what we have, I believe that we will never cause our landscape to vanish all together.

“Steep yourself in history.”

On the four separate tours of the old Truckee jail that I’ve taken, I’ve never heard the docents give the same spiel. For a tiny building, there sure is a lot to tell.

The Donner party Alder Creek campsite, with its interpretative plaques along a short loop of a walk is a place I like to take out of town guests.

“Delve into the works of local poets, fiction writers, artists and photographers.”

A Friday night open house featuring a local artist at Backstreet Framers is always worthwhile to attend. The Bookshelf’s annual 20% off night in late November is, in my humble opinion, one of my favorite social events of the year. Or if you’re not up to socializing, you could stay home and read Joanne Meschery’s wonderful novel “In A High Place.”

“Find where people come together.”

I love seeing families gathering at the Truckee River regional park for weddings. And on summer evenings, I like to listen to their festive music, which travels up the hill to my house.

I like to meet friends for a cup of delicious coffee in the back of Earthly Delights, where there are no more than three tables and a view onto the river.

And if you haven’t experienced sitting in front of the crackling fire on a winter day at our very own Truckee Library, I highly recommend it.

And lastly, “Discover the civic wound that needs healing.”

Thanks to the recent efforts of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, our area has just acquired Shallenberger Ridge adding 2,500 acres to Donner Memorial State Park.

We all know many locals who pitch in for worthwhile causes, which just goes to show that we live in a community that cares.

Well, I hope you’ll feel as I did after reading all this, that we do not live as others do, and I’m quite positive, we should all be relieved.

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.


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