Lisa and I visited our parents over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is amazing how fast the Boise area is changing. Just driving from Boise through Caldwell via Highway 20/26 to Homedale, there are subdivisions after subdivisions. They are starting to crop up around Homedale itself, which is about the only growth the area has seen since I was born.
While driving between Boise and Homedale over and over, I decided to take one of the back roads, Ustick, which actually goes all the way between the two places (a straight shot of over 40 miles, probably, though there are stop lights). There is a new subdivision going up on Ustick just outside of Homedale, one of the many in the area. There is nothing special about that. But, as with all of these new subdivisions, this one has it’s own name and the name they gave this one is Summer Wind.
What kind of name is Summer Wind? It is so generic. So bland. What, is that the only place in the area that gets a Summer Wind? Can’t they think of anything better? And aren’t there probably a million Summer Winds out there? I know that there is an elementary school in Meridian that has the same name.
Why can’t they use some of the local history to name these places? I’m sure that the land they are building this subdivision on has some history to it. It belong to some farmer/rancher and before that probably some Native American tribes lived in the area. Why not call it something like McNally’s Bluff or the Basque Outpost or something of the sort? I mean, I’d rather live in a place called Dead Horse Point than Summer Wind.
It looks like I’m not the only one annoyed with these names. I just found this site — random subdivision name generator — which shows how banal some of these names can be. I just generated 5 names and got Cedar Point, Country Forest, Elm Island, Maple Landing and Spruce Colonial Brook. Sound pretty typical to me.
I recently heard a story on NPR on how our words for geography are starting to fade, that words that were once common place to describe locations are being lost as we start to use more generic words. And words that once meant something, like glade, dale, etc, don’t mean much anymore as they are used so often in these subdivision names. These words are used in names of subdivisions without regard to what they really mean, just how they sound.
I’m sure that this is all marketing, as most things seem to be these days. But, it also makes things so damn bland. I mean, there are already lots of cool names in the area that could be used as inspiration for new names, names such as Horseshoe Bend, Bengoechea Place, Telegraph Hill, Deadhorse Crossing, Bernard’s Bedground and Wagon Box Basin. I’m sure that the land of Summer Wind had one or more names associated with it before it became a subdivision. Why not honor that history and use those names? Names that will likely be lost forever within another generation.