Friday, November 23, 2007

There's No Place Like It

I know, I know. My obsession with Home and all its attributes and incarnations exhausts even me sometimes. But every time I trek from faraway lands back to the Blue Ridge, I am struck with the strong and immediate force of how these mountains make my soul sing.

I’m an Amtrak girl now, riding the rails for the sake of frugality and entertainment. Trains are great – comfortable, civilized, and scenic. There’s no security hassle, no long lines, and four times the legroom as in airline travel. Plus, you get to watch the country fly past your window.

I boarded the Cardinal train Tuesday night in Chicago, where the leaves had long-deserted the trees, the temperatures had already fallen below 30 several days, and the world turns dark before I leave the office at 4:30 each day. I woke up Wednesday morning to bright sunlight shining through beautiful autumn leaves in the hills of Kentucky. As we chugged through West Virginia, following the path of the New River and the rise of the mountains, I thought to myself, “THIS, people, is MY land.”

Artist Andy Goldsworthy says in the documentary Rivers and Tides that he loves working at home because he knows the lay of the land, the cycle of seasons, and the disposition of the climate. I’ve acknowledged before the differences in horizontal and vertical kinds of knowings – a lot about a little or a little about a lot. I’m not sure how to make the right kind of decisions, to keep myself pointed in the direction of depth, to integrate the vast breadth of the world that lures and entices my curiosity with the unending depth of the roots that ground me here in these mountains, in this family, in my home.

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