Sense of Place in Andover Massachusetts

Although at first glance there may not seem to be many similarities between Redstone Quarry and my hometown of Andover Massachusetts, they both share one distinct quality, which is having a sense of place. When I returned home this Thanksgiving break, I had not been to my hometown since this August which I believe made the connection I have with Andover even stronger. One of the main reasons why I feel such a connection to Andover is because I have lived in the same house for my entire life. The street I grew up on, Clark Road, has so many memories attached to it for me, like when I would play with my siblings in woods behind our house or ride our scooters in our driveway. I also have a strong sense of place with my town because of the friendships I have formed there and the activities I participated in have a connection to my town. 

The memories I have of my family at our house definitely contribute to my feeling of a sense of place in my town, but I also feel this connection because of the abundance of natural areas as well. Andover is known for its trail program called AVIS with dozens of trails for walking, and we have a state park in town as well.

Harold Parker State Forest in my hometown of Andover, MA
Source: https://www.eagletribune.com/news/harold-parker-state-forest-marks-years-of-outdoor-fun/article_50391d83-9c63-5935-9bc3-07977f10aa40.html

I remember going on countless runs with my dad when I was younger through nearby neighborhoods and trails, and that was what sparked my initial connection with the natural areas in Andover. That bond strengthened as I got older and went on many runs with my cross country and track teammates on the trails in our town, whether they were distance runs or speed workouts. I also enjoy going on long walks in the woods by myself when I am feeling stressed and I need to decompress.

I think that my sense of place with Andover has changed over the years. I used to have a much stronger connection to my house and neighborhood when I was younger since I spent the majority of my free time playing with my siblings and my friends who lived near me. This made me have a lot of positive memories associated with my home, neighborhood, and the natural areas in my neighborhood. As I got older, I found that I felt a stronger sense of place in areas that I spent more time in than my home. I was far busier in high school than elementary and middle school, so the sense of place towards my home wasn’t as strong. However, I felt a stronger sense of place towards my friends’ houses who lived in different neighborhoods than me, the trails that I had discovered since starting to run cross country, and the pizza shop where I worked and made a lot of close friends.

Map of some of the popular trails in Andover
Source: https://www.andovertrails.org/maps.html

I believe that since coming to UVM and being completely cut off from that home environment for so long has caused my connection with Andover to strengthen. While I would never choose to live there in the future as an adult, I feel like my connection has grown since I have been living in a new, unfamiliar place for the past few months and it makes me realize how much I miss the sense of place that I felt when I was back at home. I have not yet begun to develop a strong sense of place in Burlington, although I suspect that this will come in time. Andover has had such an impact on who I am as a person, and for that reason, I believe that it will always have a strong sense of place for me when I return to it, even when I move to other towns or states. I felt so much happier being back home with my family and close friend during this break and it reminded me of how many connections I have back at home that I lack here.

~ by Sarah Cain on December 4, 2019.

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