This post has been brewing for a few days now that I’m back in Boise unpacking, meeting friends downtown, enjoying every budding leaf and flower after the long winter in Yellowknife. Springtime here feels so good. It’s blooming everywhere around the city, and I’m glad to be back.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about moving on. I still think everything I said then is true, and that it will continue to be true as I spend more time traveling/living in different places. But when it’s all said and done, I think there’s also something to be said about coming home. Almost all of us have a specific place in mind when someone asks us about home. When we’re off in the world we think about it, and often, we return to it.
For me, Boise is home. I was born in the brick hospital downtown, and I was raised in one of its sprawling neighborhoods where bikes are king and shoes are optional.
Now that I’m back home to stay a while, I’m realizing how much I missed this riverside city. The way it smells like cottonwood and willow, sagebrush and recent rain, pavement, water, and grass. There’s something so fresh and sweet and vital about it. The way the city is constantly revived by the ceaseless flow of water through the valley, and how it’s bursting green in the leaves of its thousands of trees.
There’s the old Capitol building at the heart of it all with its marble stairs and airy rotunda, and the Green Belt riverside pathway is the perfect spot for an evening stroll or bike ride on these newly warm spring days.
Coming home after living in a place so different, I have a new appreciation for this city I’ve taken for granted. I can see it like an outsider, and it’s beautiful.
Cradled in its wide river valley, Boise is an oasis between a vast flat desert to the south and forested mountains to the north. Not quite part of either landscape, it also skirts the border between small town and big city. Here in this sweet spot, there’s a river where an amazing amount of trees flourish, and a surprisingly urban city bustles near the foothills.
These days, Boise is the third largest city in the northwest, behind Portland and Seattle. The metropolitan area is home to over 500,000 people. It’s not overwhelmingly busy, but it’s big enough that there’s lots to do, and a thriving local culture.
Old sandstone buildings downtown stand next to rising towers and changing murals. Boise is flooded with art and urbanity and a slew of new bars and boutiques. Most notably, there are trees everywhere.
“The City of Trees” seems like a silly name, most cities have trees after all, but the name becomes overwhelmingly fitting from the vantage point of the hills overlooking downtown. From above Ann Morrison Park, there’s this vista of leaves and the city skyline.
Spring is erupting everywhere here. Lilacs, magnolias, and other trees in bloom mean there are thick clouds of that intoxicating scent of spring. Ducks are flocking to the ponds of Boise’s parks, people are biking to work, patio season is in full swing downtown. Life is good.
Coming home has made it even more clear that I gained some perspective during my winter in the north. I feel different somehow. Maybe I’m more self assured, maybe just six months older, wiser, and a bit better traveled. It’s slight, but the subtle differences are amplified by the way things here have mostly remained the same.
It’s like one of my favorite quotes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, “It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”
Often, coming home and using the constancy of this house, the people, the valley, it’s the only real benchmark I have to know the growth I’ve experienced while I was away. Mostly, now that I’m back for a while soaking in the familiar scents and contentment, I feel a swelling appreciation for where I’m from, and where I’ve been.