Home is sweetest, sometimes, when returning from an embarkation. There is that feeling of safety, of familiarity, of resumption of comfort routines; comforting visuals we have placed on the walls; the altar; the photos; the appliances even we’ve grown to invest care into by cooking, cleaning, and maintaining, the smells, the familiar hums of fridge, dishwater, clothes washer, dryer. How my great grandparents would think, if they were here, to be so astonished that we are living in a science fiction world.
There is so much to write about, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Except, I’ve been given an assignment from a connection; remote as it may be, it is intimate also, because the focus is on this changing planet, and working with all our feelings around that. That’s important to me.
So in the little pamphlet, I am asked what makes this place home. It’s not that easy for me; I have lived here only six years, and even in that circumstances have changed greatly, so I am still finding my feet, my knees, my hip sockets here.
Pressed for time, I have to go to what’s outside the home, rather than what’s in it. That is, after all, what this intimate environmental inquiry is asking to of me. Joy Harjo said our generation is the door to memory. That is why I am remembering. It may also be said that this writing is the door way to memories kept, and not lost. One of my favorite Dharma Teachers, Wendy Johnson, says that so much of the practice is simply remembering. As in, for example, the ghost of my great grandmother here, staring at the whirling clothes in the dryer, in a ll their rainbow colors, and not only rapt in astonishment, but asking, I am sure, what all this is for?
It is, of course, for remembering. Providing the space of luxury and time, so that we can get to what needs remembering.
In my case, the remembering extends to the garden, though it seems perjorative to call that sacred place such a casual name. When I go out to the garden, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll see something I’ve never seen before. It is more a wild place than curated, but the curating that I do calls in rabbits, squirrels, wood chucks, box turtles, red lined salamanders, and too many kinds of birds to name here. I have successfully created a forest edge, with native plants abounding. The amount of poltors that magnetized here in this simple move, is astounding. I am like my grandmother’s ghost at the dryer window. I am rapt, I am asking, how I can continue to remember, and remember more, of what I’m trying to do here.
This is home. This place where around me, there is a lawnfilled desert, where trees and bushes are so sculpted that they look more like statues than living things. Some part of me must bow to my neighbors’ aesthetic, there is a concept of beauty here, with them; order, tidiness; conformity to an ideal which they imagine is shared.
I do not share it. My vision of beauty extending deep into every bush, to see the living and the dead. Leaves fallen off; flies desicated in spider webs of intricated spun jewelry, even, one day, I found a dead bunny on my door step. My heart was broken, but also broken into wonder. What is this thing of life and death?
It is home, of course, all these transitions, that we, I, imagine are stable witnesses too. Watching as if not a part of it. I suppose that’s my next giant leap for Paul, though It feels as far away as the moon. To understand completely, that I, too, am merely a transition, that the fellow looking at the crispy leaf and taking it into his hand, and crunching it between fingers, to somehow understand this life and death better, is not the same fellow that today, might not move the leaf between his fingers, but rather, place it on the ground, knowing, that this death, will become alive again.
The soil, of course, is living too, even though it’s where we bury things. Several pets have been sureptiously found their final resting place at the edge of the woods, though of course, that euphanism falls short too. They may be resting, but resting primarily in our hearts, and that is another definition of home too, I suppose. What rests in the heart, even though the heart only can rest half the time between beats. All bodies will be transformed.
The next part of the assignment is a tougher one. I am asked to imagine what this physical home will be like in a hundred years. I am shuddering, shuddering, as it seems I am ever in avoidance of this necessary contemplation in front of me. But it is as valuable a one as thinking of what this land was like 100 years ago. There are resources to tap. A book called islands of abandonment, abut how the wild is taking over our abandoned places. And then of course the great example of Chernobyl. My favoirte nature writer, who lives in the industrial city of Birmingham England goes about finding things growing in sludge, cesspools, concrete cracks. There is no reason to give up, because nature will trump our efforts gloriously in the end.