Belonging is Rooted in Place


Returning to my childhood home stirs memories. I remembered how the particular landscape, more than any other place, has been a lifelong teacher. This time of year, the hills are noticeably alive. Mustard grows like a blanket while thistle and artichoke seem happy to burst into colorful stands of green and purple. Hikers follow paths on the crest of the hill where cows used to graze. Hawks and crows fly overhead, intent on sustenance for their brood, a reminder that Mother Nature remembers her patterns even in the densest of subdivisions. Unexpected changes to our world can intersect with predictable cycles, like when I hold the news of the world in my heart while driving up on this vibrant scene of hope. Meanwhile, the world teeters on the brink. Bombs drop, poles melt into liquid, and migration of humans and animals from fire, storms, and unrest play like a choreographed nightmare. On any scale of measurement, a lot is happening. I park the car in front of my parents’ home and bring my awareness to how this familiar landscape is a lot like medicine. Yes, there is asphalt and concrete, houses and schools, traffic and the distant cry of fire engines and jets, but there is more. When I expand my consciousness in widening circles, I remember my place here and a sense of belonging returns. First, I acknowledge the plants and trees that each family, past or present, lovingly planted and cared for in some unspoken promise to balance the neighborhood’s verdant expression. My parents' pine tree stands taller than all the other trees in the neighborhood and is both a beacon of life and an elder holding all the stories. Moving outward and to the east, gentle hills overlook us. It’s where I spent hours running with the dog on crisscrossing trails and where native plants persist. Miles beyond them, forests grow atop rising ranges which flatten into desert before rising again toward lakes, rivers, and snow capped mountains. To the west, more hills, more color, and eventually, the sandy beach of the Pacific Ocean where I spent many summer days.

The saying, it takes a village, is so true, but what if we included and it takes a landscape? As much as my parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, and coaches, raised me,


so did the hills, mountains, and ocean. Maybe memories activate here because the trails, boulders, birds, and trees remember me. Like kin, together we recall the old stories, except it’s on another level that goes beyond language. I wish for peace and an end to suffering, and today I also wish that all the displaced people on earth can hold their favorite landscape in their heart so that they can remember what it feels like to belong. Tell me about your favorite landscape on this Earth Day 2022.

 

Repurposing on Earth Day

I've been recycling, repurposing, and composting my old journals. Yesterday, I created designs of the four elements, tore out and stamped each page of my 1987 journal, and then strung them like prayer flags around my yard. Each page held a prayer (old and new) for our dear Earth and all her beings. The flags fluttered in the wind all day. Trees held the twine, birds turned their heads in curiosity, and then the rain came and drenched, and mostly destroyed, the entire thing! What power and personality! What a reminder of the impermanence of it all! [See the 3 min video of my entire process on Instagram ]



Happy Earth Day!



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