I have been traveling across country during the past week from New Mexico to Maine, leaving one “home” for another wondering what the word even means for me these days. I suspect the word doesn’t refer to a place, but a state of mind/body that continues to elude me.
In a forested glen in Virginia I first heard the cardinals singing from the trees and smelled fragrant mounds of trailing honeysuckle that cascaded over every bush and lichened granite stone. For a while I seemed unable to soak in enough of the fully leafed out deciduous trees – trees dressed in miraculous shades of lime, deepening to dark spruce. My endless hunger for emerald green was finally appeased by endless rolling hills and blue tipped mountains.
Arriving in Maine brought rain, a second spring, the joy of peepers chiming by the thousands in the bogs, a million shades of unfurling greens, muted maple flower reds that veiled the trees, and willowy emerald grasses waving to the hills. The rich scent of forests, ponds and brooks allows me to breathe in rich moist – laden air with an appreciation for humidity that I have never had before l moved to the desert. The North Country woman has come home to cobalt blue skies without a harsh summer white out, and the brutal west winds of the desert have been left behind.
Last night, the bears came. First a small yearling who climbed bb’s pine after feeding a few minutes on the ground – oh, the sound of pitiful wailing and moaning broke my heart. Where was the yearling’s mother? After about 45 minutes she arrived, ate a few morsels, tipped over the bird feeder for her yearling’s pleasure and strode across the lawn with the confidence that comes from knowing her territory and accepting recent non – threatening human/dog arrivals. Disappearing down to the brook she finally re appeared behind her little one. Suddenly, startled by some strange sound, she sprinted down the hill with her youngster trailing close behind. This mother behaved so casually towards her offspring that I wondered if family break up was immanent. When the female comes into estrus she will leave her yearling on its own… a normal process, though heartrending to experience. Yearlings are often very afraid to be left alone. After they left I stayed by the window staring into the night, and sent a silent prayer of gratitude and prayers for the safety of these bears to Venus, who was perched in high the night sky over the eastern horizon. If any experience would help me find ‘home’, I thought, an experience of seeing beloved wild bears would.
Yet I am still walking on air.
Upside down, backwards, sideways. No wonder we feel dizzy and nauseated much of the time. Legislators discuss ”consensual rape,” presidential spokespeople insist there are ”alternate facts,” and lies become beyond brazen since there are written, photographic, video, audible, publicly witnessed records and testimonies exposing the lies. Crowd size, for example. What was said in an un-doctored videotaped interview or speech. What crime was boldly committed and baldly denied. When enough of these accumulate—and they come in an avalanche daily—they leave tiny pits, then dents, in a citizen’s self confidence about recognizing reality, until the blizzard of pebbles becomes a pelting of stones and finally a hillside of boulders roaring down to bury the self, the truth, the real…This happens through language and action both, via short-term tactics and long-term strategies. It’s so blatant it bewilders the rational mind…It’s so continual it exhausts attempts to select one discrete example and analyze that constructively… It’s so absurd that in lighter moments we liken it to Wonderland or the looking glass, with ourselves as Alice–shrinking, swelling, lost, being bullied, even being sentenced to our own beheading. There is fear, and worse: the massive combination of all this seems so encompassing as to feel overwhelming, it evokes despair.
This morning Robin Morgan’s words burned through my bear haze, reminding me that along with all the wild creatures I cannot inhabit this planet in peace. Just like the haunted, hunted bears, I too am on the run. Because ‘the personal is political’ no place is home because most of the humans on this planet have gone insane and there is no safe place left to go…
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.