Having spent most of my life nomadically moving from place to place, I'm beginning to feel one with the land. I grew up in Southern California, observing acre after acre of field and forest and farm and orchard being converted into tracts of little pink houses. I was not, nor could not be connected to the earth in that scenario. I was drawn to places like Big Sur, Joshua Tree and farm communities like Gilroy, California, the garlic capital of the world. But I was there as a voyeur, a visitor. I was looking for connection but I was just passing through. Later I lived in Washington D.C. and spent weekends canoeing up the Potomac. Living even later near Boston I hiked with my dog in Thoreau's stomping ground. Though these places were inspirational and even therapeutic, I was still passing through.
American Indians felt a mystical oneness with the land. Who they were was intertwined with the land they inhabited. They were not separate from the earth, but spiritually connected to the land, the flora and fauna. There was no differentiation between the people and the land. The land was the people and the people were the land.
While I have not reached the level of the early Americans and their mystical connection to the earth, I have touched their spirit. Our twelve acres are becoming part of me and myself a part of the trees, the stream, the chipmunks and even the swamp. My hands have been in the dirt in which we plant the squash and the lettuce. When I'm away I think about our twelve acres, I talk about our cabbage and our garlic and our peppers. I no longer think about "getting away", but of getting back to the land I am attached to. While I don't know the technical names of all the plants and trees around me, I do know many by acquaintance. The big oak tree that marks the path toward the stream is the "Three Sisters" because the trunk branches off into three directions. I recognize this majestic tree and pay my regards whenever I pass by. There are unique outcroppings of ledge that have their own personalities. I talk to the frogs in the stream in the summer. I know where the garden snakes hang out. The land is not only familiar but is becoming a part of my consciousness.
Where once my inspiration was with Jack Kerouac's "On The Road", now it's Scott and Helen Nearing's "The Good Life". Instead of hitchhiking to the Grand Canyon, I'm thinking of what can grow in our garden to end up on our dinner table. I take hikes in our woods with the dog. These twelve acres are becoming a part of me and I a part of them. I'm becoming connected. I am the land and the land is me. -G.H.