My place on earth is where I know most of the birds and the trees and where I know what the climate will be right now… and where I have spent enough time to know it intimately and personally. (Gary Snyder)
I’m never so aware of my place on earth as when I go for evening walks. The sun is usually just beginning to set over Pinnacle Mountain as we make our way up the steep hill to the plateau where there are views of the Green Mountains to our south and Pinnacle to the north. This is big sky country made all the more noticeable by the expanse of fields that the road dissects.
Our walks are all different and all mostly the same, if that makes any sense. We talk about the trees that are blooming, we remark that it is early to see daisies making their first appearance in the ditches, we remember that we haven’t heard the night hawk yet this year, and we watch for the bobolinks flying over the field to see where they have built their nests and pray they’ll have time to raise their young before the field gets cut. We feel the warmth of the last rays of the setting sun and notice the breeze has picked up from the west bringing in tomorrow’s weather. And so it goes – all different and all mostly the same.
Some nights we run into our neighbours just above us and share news of our children or our gardens or mutual friends who are traveling in distant parts of the world. Other nights we might stop and talk to the farmers on our road who are still busy draining fields, making ditches, and cutting brush. We reminisce about the time the calf fell in the well or the farmhouse that used to stand on the old foundation at the corner and where they raised thirteen children before the house burnt and the farm ran into hard times. It is these shared memories that remind us our connections run deep.
Gary Snyder, the poet I referenced at the beginning, talks about just these types of experiences. He describes community as diverse people who live in the same place and who are tied together by their inevitable association with each other and their willingness to engage in that over a long period of time. What I know for certain is that I come home from these walks feeling a whole lot more connected – to everything and everybody.
And that’s the gift of finding your place in the world.