Take the long lashes
that guard your eyes
and sweep a path
across this earth....
there is no fixed place
on earth for man
Alice Walker from Revolutionary Petunias
There is no place called home.
The place where I spent many years growing up still exists. My mother still lives there. The land she's been cultivating for over twenty years is mature now with tall trees shading her moss garden, accented by purple flowering hostas and lacy white hydrangeas. Large fuchsia rhododendrons put on a show every Spring. There are vistas of Black Eyed Susans in the summer, and roses that bloom from April till November. One night this year I dreamt that the garden was gone, that I would never see it again. On my next visit I crept outside at night and hugged every tree, thanked every corner of the garden for being there.
Soon after I'd gotten back to my apartment in the city, my mom called to tell me the apple orchards at the end of the block had all been cut down. A new subdivision was being built. My mother's boxwood has been browning. Box is very sensitive to air pollution. We know this story. Its the same all over.
In her heartbreaking book 'The Place You Love Is Gone' Melissa Holbrook Pierson writes about what it means to grow up surrounded by nature, and then to have it destroyed by development. It takes a toll on us psychically, even after we've moved away.
I live in Manhattan now. I volunteer in a community garden designed to help city kids connect with nature. Its threatened by development, and I've spent countless hours organizing to save it.
I've dreamt of having my own garden, a place I don't have to fight so hard to keep from being destroyed. But I hope that when I'm finally sitting in the garden of my dreams I remember that it is really always all around me: the parks, the street trees, community gardens, dandelions in the cracks in the sidewalk, rain forests, glaciers, wetlands, orchards. They are all my responsibility, to a smaller and larger degree, to protect and to tend. Everywhere is home.
(above photo is of purslane, a very nutritious wild plant growing on Delancey St., L.E.S., Manhattan)
Post inspired by Day 11 of Gwen Bell’s December blogging challenge: What was your favorite place in 09? (the earth)
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