Beyond the homesickness
Beyond the heavy desires for country living and pace,
for land and relationships with non-humans,
for more ground, in the literal and metaphorical,
And the goodness that she deserves. The goodness of safe space in which to stretch, grow,
explore and play.
The goodness of a body that knows dirty knees, dusty feet, cold creeks on hot days, and eyelids drawn shut by a cricket’s rhythmic lullaby.
Beyond desires for my self alone, there is my desire for her. That her childhood home be both inner and outer. That what books spark in her imagination can then be played out onto the greater stage of backyard, of wilderness, of garden, animal, tree…home.
This weekend I witnessed as she unfurled herself with her newfound steps in her exploration of life beyond four walls. Often in the city, in the tower of my own mental palaces, I wonder if my instinct to root us down stems from idealism or fantasy. After all, with good home life, I do believe children can flourish anywhere.
Then I see it, the way that she orients towards the green grass and the blue sky, banging on the glass door to go out like a frustrated cat. I watch her pause when the wind whips by her, and smile in pleasure as she picks up the exuberance and runs after it down a hill. These are things that I can give her in small doses in an urban life. A nice backyard maybe, day trips to the park, weekend excursions to well worn hiking trails around the bay.
But I don’t want her relationship with nature to be tethered to a car, or dependent on her Mommie’s stress level and whether or not the parental units have the bandwidth to take the time to pack the bags and the snacks and the change of clothes and to get gas and make lunch and watch for cars and get the dog in the back of the car…just to go for a walk in the woods. It was magic, being able to open the back door, to step out with coffee in the early morning light and be serenaded by the birds awakening, while letting her totter around…all without needing to worry about whether or not she would fall off the stairs out back or if she might go out into the traffic.
It was nice that the major threat concerned her giant noggin and some fencing.
Human ecologist Paul Shepard says this:
“The archetypal role of nature–the mineral, plant, and animal world found most complete in wilderness–is in the development of the individual human personality, for it embodies the poetic expression of ways of being and relating to others. Urban civilization creates the illusion of a shortcut to individual maturity by attempting to omit the eight to ten years of immersion in nonhuman nature. Maturity so achieved is spurious because the individual, though he may be precociously articulate and sensitive to subtle human interplay, is without a grounding in the given structure that is nature…Indeed, the real bitterness of modern social relations has its roots in that vacuum where a beautiful and awesome otherness should have been encountered.”
You already know the foregone conclusion.
We need to move.
And the conversation has begun on how to disentangle ourselves from our lives here, how to begin such a complicated process, and how to attract what almost feels like the impossible into our near future…
A home for Fern’s childhood.