Last week, I spent some time with a friend, JB's son, who was visiting Minnesota from his new home in Alaska. He told me that he and his brother, who still lives in Minnesota, had gone out to the place where they had grown up, to the homestead that their dad had carved out of the woods, hoping to be able to walk the woods, look around a bit and maybe kindle some memories. They had a nice time out there, and it turned out to be a good idea.
So, I made my own pilgrimage, of sorts, a few days later, on another beauty of a fall day. When I pulled into the driveway, I was struck by how tall the trees had grown, how the place seemed enshrouded in yellow and gold, with a soft light that felt really good. Unfortunately, I had done this on the spur of the moment and had ignored the nudge I'd gotten to take my camera, but I walked around and got a sense of the place it had become. I had moments of sadness, but they were quickly replaced with great peace. I'm so glad I went.
The day was fading, but enough sunlight was left to take some pictures and feel whatever it was I was going to feel. I was wondering if the energy I had felt the other day was the day itself, or the place. This idea of energy around a place intrigues me and I have wondered where it comes from. Is it the place or the energy we bring to it? I have no answer for that and maybe none is necessary, but when I arrived, the energy definitely still was there and although the trees had turned and many leaves had fallen, it was still awash in fall beauty.
As I walked around the corner of the house nearest the woods, I startled a deer that had been browsing back there. I seem to be startling deer lately, don't I? Anyway, as he hightailed it out of there, I was filled with this sense of what was, what had been, and not just in Bungo, but throughout this country, and not so very long ago, when Native Americans lived here and across America, before the white man's agenda involving avarice and the gutting of a way of life that was once one with the natural world. It's not something I can think of for long periods of time.
JB had built this house in stages, starting in the mid-70's when many folks were attempting to do some homesteading, build their lives from the ground up. It took more than a few years to do so, starting with the stone foundation of the house, from stones gathered in the field and hauled into place. As he did so, he also built a small barn that housed a chicken coop with an outside run for them to peck and scratch, a place for his goats, which he milked and from which he made cheese, a rabbit hutch which had once housed many rabbits. He'd built a small pig barn with a state of the art fence enclosure for the pig to move about a bit more freely without escaping, until fall, when he would become food for the table. JB did his own killing and his own butchering. He knew where his food came from and his heat. He kept his woodsheds full. It was a lifestyle that was the antithesis of debt.
In late winter, early spring, when the sap would start running from the maples and the birch, he would tap the trees, with taps he'd made himself from wood on his land, and collect it to make syrup. He had a stone fireplace he'd built where he would boil it down over an open fire, the syrup in large pans above it. It was one of the many things he did to sustain his own life as free from outside influence or aggravation as possible. Many others also did so during this time, but it's not an easy life. Not many people are willing to live with an outhouse and all that implies. JB has more than once mentioned that he always had to dig a new hole for it in the summer when it was hot and the mosquitoes many. Now, they have been outlawed and many options for self-sufficiency removed, or made very difficult by The Powers That Be.
I am not mentioning all of this out of nostalgia. I'm rather fond of indoor plumbing. I'm mentioning it partly because of how very grateful I am for my land, here and now, and for all the possibilities inherent in it. But, being out in Bungo did make me think a bit more about what has happened, the course we all took to this place where we now find ourselves. The State of the Union, if you will.
You see, one of the reasons I was able to walk around his place so freely is that there is a sign on the door, a notice of foreclosure, and it is unoccupied. At least two families have come and gone from this place since JB left it in 1999, eventually answering the siren song of the SW. The latest family could not make it work for reasons unknown. Although, from what I saw inside, someone had done some fine remodeling and it is a shame they left in such a hurry. Pieces of their lives are still in there and will probably not be removed by loving hands.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still a hopeaholic, believing that good things will arise out of what must fall. Rebuilding will take imagination and effort. We are all more resilient, more capable, more skilled and talented than we've been led to believe. Out of this, great good can and will come. But, it's up to us. I've said it before and I am saying it again: provide your own hope. It isn't going to come from any government source and it isn't going to come from wishful thinking, with our heads in the sand.
It's time for a great awakening all across this land, almost past time. So, we'd better get crackin'.
Why do I have so much hope still? It comes from the messages I get from the universe telling me there is reason for great hope. My hope yesterday came in the form of two little raccoons who were sitting in the dry grass, just off the edge of the road as I approached JB's former driveway. They popped up together, reminding me of the two I lost, then ran down the ditch and into the corn field. Yes, raccoons like corn, but I know it was a message. And it was all the message I needed.
What started my thinking along this track again this morning?
This post: http://www.coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2012/10/welcome-to-asylum-capitalism-ceaseless.html
One person's corn-marauding raccoons are another person's whisper in the ear from the Universe; it's good you recognized the message when you got it. I love this post, the reality mixed with memories and optimism. We need all three to make life work, and your message is an important one.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ashling, for this very thoughtful comment.Delete
A very heartfelt post and an enjoyable one to read through, reminiscing as I went along.
I'm with you on the hope front. To me, without the kind of hope that comes from a belief that we can affect our destinies, we lose before we begin.
I was surprised about the outlawing of outhouses. It's not something that affects me, but it doesn't seem logical.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post where I visited the places I had lived, but I never left my house to write it. [The Road To The Poconos – A Street View, APRIL 3, 2010]
Using Google Maps, I captured images of each location. You probably wouldn't be able to do that, since your locations are more rural than the ones I looked for in NYC, but it may be interesting to try.
When they outlawed outhouses, only outlaws had outhouses. :) It's all about taking away self-reliance where possible. Free-thinkers are not who they want the citizenry to be.Delete
I have used Google Earth to locate something, but I have to be standing right there on that land. It's all about the feeling, the energy I feel while standing there. Computers do have their limitations, and I hope they always do.
Dear Teresa, the fact that you've posted this on Wednesday, the day of the first 2012 presidential debate, is significant I think. I support Obama. He is the candidate for whom I will vote. And yet, like you, I see so much that needs tending in our country. I see changes that seem foreboding.ReplyDelete
And I long for a system in which Republicans and Democrats would become Americans again. That's part of the name of a book I'm reading by a former senator--Mickey Edwards.
We've heard little from the two candidates about some of the biggest concerns I have. When will the dialogue among us take place? I don't know, and yet, like you, I try to remain hopeful.
I believe with you that "we are all more resilient, more capable, more skilled and talented than we've been led to believe. Out of this, great good can and will come. But, it's up to us. I've said it before and I am saying it again: provide your own hope."
Thank you for this posting. It reflects, I think, what so many of us are thinking and feeling. Peace.
Speaking just for myself, my form of protest against a deceptive system is to Not vote. I honestly do not believe it matters one whit. Corporations run this country and no one else. To participate is to continue in the illusion of a power that we do not actually have, which only benefits those who count the votes. That's just my opinion. ;)Delete
I'm always glad you leave such thoughtful comments.
What a nice post..how I love the thinking of the last couple of paragraphs especially! I just saw the documentary Inside Job...what an eye opener that was for me about the housing dilemma...I thought I knew a little bit being a builder but I knew nothing. But I am still a hopeaholic (love that word) too but have always believed we make our own destiny.ReplyDelete
There is much we all need to open our eyes to. It's all out there if a person is willing to find it.Delete
Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
Teresa, thanks for another really thoughtful post. It's too bad that place stands empty when somebody could probably make a tough-but-good life there. And more generally, we have so much wasted housing stock and other wasted resources.... But I, too, cling to the hope that humans will see the light and things will get better. Hopeaholic...lovely word.ReplyDelete
There are many houses that this country could do so much with to help the many, but it won't be done. They raze foreclosed houses in some communities.Delete
We are seeing the light, individually. I'm certain of it.
All the wonderful wildlife keeps me hopeful. The doe with her almost full-grown twin fawns, the twelve turkeys who graze around the neighborhood, the flocks of migrating robins and the crazy-busy squirrels getting ready for winter, those are the things that brighten my day. Two young raccoons would have been the icing on the cake!ReplyDelete
Nature and wildlife provides a sense of salvation for us, certainly grace, and you have such wonderful wildlife around your place. Seeing those two little raccoon was one fine moment.Delete
There's much said between the lines here Teresa. I agree on the not voting thing, but I think I've said that before. When I think of the future I may be more apprehensive than hopeful, but there does need to come a time of reckoning and so be it. All in all it doesn't really matter in the greater scheme of things what I think. Meanwhile, let us continue to love nature.ReplyDelete
I think my hope comes in the post-reckoning phase, when rebuilding will require all of us to make different choices. I don't know, but I believe that what each of us thinks does make a difference. Maybe all the difference. But, yes, in the meanwhile, love nature. Absolutely. Thanks, LindaDelete
Lovely memories shared with nature. It is sad to think our votes offer no change.perhaps it is more like the lottery, there is a tiny chance to make that difference, sometime.ReplyDelete
I personally believe that even with a third party making headway, nothing will change. It's broken, maybe always has been, and nobody's going to even try to fix it anytime soon.Delete
I hope I'm proved wrong.
I like your optimism. It comforts me. Your thoughts also remind me of something I see across the country. Those who are really in touch with the land seem to be the ones who hold the greatest hope for America. I believe the reconstruction of this country, I mean the reconstruction of the soul of America, will come only when most of the people here truly understand what is important and what is not. It is unfortunate then that our population is so top heavy in the large cities where that kind of thinking and change is most difficult, and the thoughts of what might have to happen to precipitate that kind of change there are not pleasant ones.ReplyDelete
I appreciate what you say about "the reconstruction of the soul of America," and agree with your assessment. The kind of change we are referring to is fraught with difficulty, but my optimism remains within individuals and the small communities that will form and are forming in more rural areas. Thank you so much for these comments.Delete
Since I have been alive and living here in the US, this time has been one of the very hardest to bear for so many people. You are right,we are in need of an awakening. I have learned to live with less and less as the years go by, and it's a good feeling. Indoor plumbing is a necessity, though. :-)ReplyDelete
I do like hot water coming out of a spout on the wall. We are all so very resilient though if need be. Simplicity is key.Delete
I'm so glad you went back, Teresa, and so glad for this post today. Thank you for expressing so eloquently your feeling of hope and that it needs to come from each of us. We are personally feeling the squeeze of this economy, yet, I still feel hope in the future. It is good to see it in your writing.ReplyDelete
I cannot imagine a time when I would lose all hope. It's inconceivable,and that's not wishful thinking. I know there's always reason for hope and I know you know that, too! :)Delete
Good introspective post - barbaraReplyDelete
Thank you, BarbaraDelete