Susan Albert had a post yesterday that really spoke to me. I keep going back and re-reading what she had to say about Terry Tempest Williams and her book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.
In an interview titled “The Politics of Place,” Williams talks about the importance of staying home–or at least, staying in one place long enough to learn its seasons, its inhabitants, the names of things. Here’s a paragraph (the longer interview is definitely worth reading)
I believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among… The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms — plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings — then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put … if we don’t know the names of things, if don’t know pronghorn antelope, if we don’t know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don’t know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.
Staying at home, learning a place well enough so that we can chart the changes–that’s a significant, meaningful commitment. Among all the other things we must do to protect this earth and the places we love, that’s right at the top.
As I read the above I find myself saying yea, that’s obvious. Then I realize that until I read it, It wasn’t. Then it starts me to thinking about what it means to those of us who feel the pull of a different place than the one we were raised in and call home. I have spent 53 years figuring out that the Texas Gulf coast, no matter how long I stay, lacks something that my nature calls out for. I never realized what it was until a few years ago driving back from the San Antonio area I felt the growing depression as the land flattened out towards home.
Since I find I agree with Terry Williams on the central part of her thesis, and I have spent my lifetime doing what she says, what does it say about me that I now find the need to do it all over again in a new/old place. Is it, as I think, that ancestral pull to the even older home? Or, is it just looking for the new experiences to reawaken the old wonder of the new?
Enough introspection so early in the morning. Let’s see if there is anything in the mornings email…
I see that the Floyd area is still having some fun with the below freezing temperatures this morning, though it looks like Boone and Valle Crucis are in the above freezing side of the thermometer.
Reading the Washington Post this morning I see that Richard Cohen has some good things to say about Al Gore.
Gore — the son of a senator himself — was raised for the presidency. But for the moment at least, he is showing all the irritating signs of a man at peace with himself. He abandoned Washington for Nashville. He has made a bundle in his investments, and he has set out to show that there is life after a failed candidacy, a purposeful life in which a man can do some good. His movie and his speeches are — to paraphrase what Clausewitz said about war — a continuation of politics by other means. He cannot make war but he can still make a difference.
If he runs are not, my hats off to Al Gore. He is making a difference by making a difference and in the long run that’s what matters.
Just to show how spring is trying to push on in this year, here’s a photo of the leaves popping out on the oaks in my yard.