I use this word a lot in my work as a therapeutic musician, usually in the context of playing familiar songs to help boost the memory of my elderly patients. The fact is, we attach ourselves to certain things, places, and times in our lives. When we feel nostalgia, it usually happens when we see, hear, smell, or taste something that reminds us of a past experience. Our senses send signals to our brain, and our brain creates pathways that connect back to our memories. Music is a particularly salient stimulus. We can hear even just a few notes of a song and immediately be transported back in time.
Over the course of many years, a connection grew between me and Turkey Hill, which is really only the name for the hill itself. Nestled between Weir River Farm and Whitney Thayer Woods south of Boston, MA, I specify the hill itself because that's where I would have my most contemplative moments. I pondered what the hill looked like before the cell towers were built. I watched the seasons change. When I played harp for hospice patients down the street, the hill was where I went to regroup after rough shifts. This is why, when I first decided to launch The Hiking Harpist, I had no doubt in my mind where I needed to go first. I was excited to see what the late winter trek would inspire me to write; the only other time I used Turkey Hill as my muse, I was composing 6-speaker surround sound electronic music behind a computer. This time, I'd be behind a harp, and it would be much more "me."
Now that I have a couple of tunes inspired by my hike, I can revisit Turkey Hill anytime I want. All I have to do is listen and get my own nostalgia boost.