I’ve said to several people that I’ve loved every ecosystem I’ve ever visited (except human urban ecosystems, I suppose). And I do:
I love the Pacific Northwest,
the coast of California,
the sub-arctic alpine forests of Alaska,
the Pacific tropics of Hawaii,
the Caribbean/Atlantic tropics,
the Gulf Coast (except the obvious human-made damage of dying ocean & oil spills there),
the Arkansas rocky forests,
North of London rolling farmland (though it used to be forest),
the Great Redwoods,
the gorgeous country of Upstate New York & unsullied New Jersey,
the rocky hills and mountains of southern & eastern Oklahoma,
the big skies of West Texas,
the chalk hills of Aledo/Hill country…
I’ve never seen real prairie yet, but if I like the sickly shadow of it that’s left in North Texas I’d probably love the real thing in Kansas…
and now I’m in the pinewoods of East Texas. And maybe it’s my sore back from the first night camping or the disappointing drone of the nearby highway, or how little energy I had for our one real hike in the forest (where it was QUIET), but I have now turned that statement around and am looking at it from the other side.
I love every place I’ve visited, every ecosystem I’ve briefly experienced, but none – not one – feels like home. I feel like a homeless wanderer bound to love every place a little, but none too deeply.
There’s a character in a Miyazaki film (Spirited Away) who suffers a kind of amnesia – he can’t remember who he is because the river where he’s from has been destroyed – paved, obliterated.
I feel like that. I get the most excited about the Cross Timbers, but they’re vanishing even as I write. What’s left of the system is the skeleton – dying trees which will have trouble reproducing in Bermuda grass and sprinklers, which are cleared on the whims of businessmen and women who crave larger parking lots. Their birds are moving on, the forest’s silence shattered by highways and landfills and machinery, the trees’ once-impressive profile on the landscape obfuscated by rows and rows and rows and rows of squeezed-tight houses. The few builders who try to preserve the few trees do so as an afterthought, and the trees die soon after the check is written anyway.
The Cross Timbers is the only place I can think of right now where I would walk quietly, stealthily in my modern ‘moccasins’ (Vibrams) and be hunting thrill… belonging… comfort… and find it.
I want to research where remaining Cross Timbers (and similar habitats) are. Then have a getaway there.
[…] I think if an ecosystem is ‘yours’ in a deep sense, it’s like how I described the Cross Timbers to Tony- like a lover, simultaneously exciting and comforting. This is how we achieve my desire for continuity with change – you get so familiar with the same place that you are then aware of the differences. Seasonal differences, annual subtleties, overarching change. Last year the frost nipped the greenbriar. This year more grasshoppers than crickets. The kind of things you can’t notice if you don’t stay put, but noticing them makes you feel like you’re on a journey.
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