Our uncle is dying. Just a month or so ago, he was perfectly fine—a bit off perhaps—; today he’s in hospice, riddled with cancer, breathing his last. He is far away, in Seattle, about to be more faraway still. Wherever he is, he is one of the elders who props up our world. His passing is momentous. My husband and I think of him, his condition, constantly, the details vivid.
Yesterday we went to look at my husband’s farm. We tramped around looking at the dry corn and beans. The crops looked stunted and unhealthy. The season’s over: it’s hard to believe.
Walking around on the farm re-awakens an old desire: the desire to be of a place—to be settled in and one with it—, an old longing, a vision of contentment much older than I. The desire to be rooted in place is abiding, an idealized dream. We conceptualize life in this way because it’s comforting: it’s homey to think of being settled in a spot forever, suspended in time, immune to change.
The alternative—unrootedness, being footloose—is unappealing. We all wish to press down a bit, however lightly, on this earth.
Image: Footprint of an anonymous bird, by Celia.