Roughly: Learning the Land

IMG_7750This year I want to know the land.

I’ve learned of rewilding Britain, where it sounds as though the Celtic magic that always called to me is längst weg, gone long agowhich I now realize shouldn’t surprise me at all, though all hope is not lost.

I’ve learned of the marshes of the Gulf Coast drowning in saltwater and oil as the water that holds up the land of Louisiana is pumped away.

I’ve met the field mice of rural Wisconsin who know that snow falls so they may build subways within it, free from want and fear; and I’ve cried when progress called a government trapper to hunt down Escudilla’s last grizzly.

This year I want to know the far shores of our Great Lakes where I’ve never been before.

I want to commune with the wind and the rocks of southwestern Iceland when I’m there.

Then perhaps the western wilds of Solnit and Muir. I want to know places, and also those who step across the land and their words that travel in its winds.

I’ve always loved to make spaces. Rearrange the room, carve out a closet cave, imagine the snug fort that a covered wagon could be for the children riding in it. I’ve dreamed of a life in caravan, a house on wheels, a safe cozy space with everything in its place.

Ten years ago now I first saw the vision of tiny houses in wide open spaces—living so small that by necessity you live also outdoors. Keeping from harming the land, perched on top as a steward instead of digging deep, anchoring in concrete, refusing to let go when the dunes fall into the sea or the farm is sucked dry. Not an extractor manipulator gleaner what is the right word here? Not taker but protector. The couple who leased the land to keep it from being—I almost had the word I wanted but then I lost it—drilled. Developed. Used.

Exploited, that was it.

Instead, worshipped. Protected. Self-willed. Resilient.IMG_6459