Native


It’s a rainy day today.  As I walk to the library, people pass beneath bright umbrellas.  A little boy splashes in a puddle and giggles.  Inside the library I tuck myself into a corner and set down my computer and my bag of crocheting.  A woman punches numbers into her calculator and frowns, pencil poised over her workbook.  She’s got an open can of Red Bull with a yellow straw poking out of the top.  She takes a long drink and stares out the window before returning to her work; jamming her left hand into her hair and resting her head there. 
I pull out my book: Becoming Native to this Place by Wes Jackson.  In his essay “Nature as Measure,” Jackson says that we cannot just save the remaining wilderness we have, but must work to save all the other places in our lives—the places where we live and work and go to school.  “Either,” Jackson says, “all the earth is holy or none is.”


There’s a farm close to where I live: A couple of barns with white paint flaking off the sides.  Outbuildings.  A farmhouse with wooden floors throughout.  A few years ago, the farm went on the market.  I figured it would go to the developers.  Instead, the local township purchased the farm and leased it.  The fields have recently been plowed.  A local artist’s community is renting the farmhouse.  And it’s here that Squints takes a weekly art class.
There’s a pond to the left of the gravel driveway.  Ducks and turtles make their home here.  Canadian geese watch from the field to the right.  Their eggs have hatched: Fuzzy yellow goslings toddle after their mothers, pecking here, then there, then over there, foraging for food.  There’s a killdeer too, nesting in the driveway.  When we approach with the car, she cries and dashes out on twig legs.  She drags her right wing along the gravel, pretending to be injured to draw predators away from her nest.

Sixteen years ago, when my husband and I built our house on my parents’ forty acre farm, a killdeer nested in that driveway, too.  The builders, hard-working, hard-swearing men, encircled the nest with the red flags my dad uses to mark his vegetable garden.  Every time we visited the house—to paint, to stain, to inhale the sweet scent of sawdust and hardwood floors, or just to admire the house—the killdeer would leave her nest and feign injury.
Outside, the rain picks up.  Squints likes this sort of rain; a cleansing rain.  A rain that washes the pollen from the trees.  He’s had an awful time with allergies this year.  He’s on four medications.  None of them seem to be working.  And he’s constantly grumpy.

The other day, I consulted one of my herbal books and learned of something I could try in place of his medicines.  Something that used to be pervasive before it was labeled a weed.  Something that’s a natural antihistamine.  Something that has very few side effects and no warning label.  Something I suspect grows in abundance on my parent’s forty-acre farm.
Squints’ doctor gave me the go-ahead.  She asked me to let her know how it worked. 

Used to be you could walk outside and find this weed easily.  Today, you have to forage for it.  And you have to know what you’re looking for.
In my development, no such weeds grow.  And so, I head to the herbal store to pay for something that nature provides at no charge.

At the library, a little girl runs around the calling out “Mommy?” 
The loudspeaker comes on.  A woman is paged.  “Please come to the reference desk.  Your daughter is looking for you.”

Instantly, the mother emerges from the picture books section, her son on her hip.  She bends down before her child and comforts her.
Together, they check out their books and head home.

Before me, the woman with the calculator opens her second can of Red Bull; transfers her bent yellow straw to the new can and continues frowning over her work.


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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Native

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Native


It’s a rainy day today.  As I walk to the library, people pass beneath bright umbrellas.  A little boy splashes in a puddle and giggles.  Inside the library I tuck myself into a corner and set down my computer and my bag of crocheting.  A woman punches numbers into her calculator and frowns, pencil poised over her workbook.  She’s got an open can of Red Bull with a yellow straw poking out of the top.  She takes a long drink and stares out the window before returning to her work; jamming her left hand into her hair and resting her head there. 
I pull out my book: Becoming Native to this Place by Wes Jackson.  In his essay “Nature as Measure,” Jackson says that we cannot just save the remaining wilderness we have, but must work to save all the other places in our lives—the places where we live and work and go to school.  “Either,” Jackson says, “all the earth is holy or none is.”


There’s a farm close to where I live: A couple of barns with white paint flaking off the sides.  Outbuildings.  A farmhouse with wooden floors throughout.  A few years ago, the farm went on the market.  I figured it would go to the developers.  Instead, the local township purchased the farm and leased it.  The fields have recently been plowed.  A local artist’s community is renting the farmhouse.  And it’s here that Squints takes a weekly art class.
There’s a pond to the left of the gravel driveway.  Ducks and turtles make their home here.  Canadian geese watch from the field to the right.  Their eggs have hatched: Fuzzy yellow goslings toddle after their mothers, pecking here, then there, then over there, foraging for food.  There’s a killdeer too, nesting in the driveway.  When we approach with the car, she cries and dashes out on twig legs.  She drags her right wing along the gravel, pretending to be injured to draw predators away from her nest.

Sixteen years ago, when my husband and I built our house on my parents’ forty acre farm, a killdeer nested in that driveway, too.  The builders, hard-working, hard-swearing men, encircled the nest with the red flags my dad uses to mark his vegetable garden.  Every time we visited the house—to paint, to stain, to inhale the sweet scent of sawdust and hardwood floors, or just to admire the house—the killdeer would leave her nest and feign injury.
Outside, the rain picks up.  Squints likes this sort of rain; a cleansing rain.  A rain that washes the pollen from the trees.  He’s had an awful time with allergies this year.  He’s on four medications.  None of them seem to be working.  And he’s constantly grumpy.

The other day, I consulted one of my herbal books and learned of something I could try in place of his medicines.  Something that used to be pervasive before it was labeled a weed.  Something that’s a natural antihistamine.  Something that has very few side effects and no warning label.  Something I suspect grows in abundance on my parent’s forty-acre farm.
Squints’ doctor gave me the go-ahead.  She asked me to let her know how it worked. 

Used to be you could walk outside and find this weed easily.  Today, you have to forage for it.  And you have to know what you’re looking for.
In my development, no such weeds grow.  And so, I head to the herbal store to pay for something that nature provides at no charge.

At the library, a little girl runs around the calling out “Mommy?” 
The loudspeaker comes on.  A woman is paged.  “Please come to the reference desk.  Your daughter is looking for you.”

Instantly, the mother emerges from the picture books section, her son on her hip.  She bends down before her child and comforts her.
Together, they check out their books and head home.

Before me, the woman with the calculator opens her second can of Red Bull; transfers her bent yellow straw to the new can and continues frowning over her work.


Labels: , ,

2 Comments:

At May 3, 2012 at 4:05 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

Like it... It's like going with you on a mini trip... Curious, what is the weed you were talking about for squints.

 
At May 3, 2012 at 5:18 AM , Anonymous Mary said...

Odd, how memories are triggered. Your bringing it back to the present was very effective.

 

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