Your place is your legacy

The farmer, poet, author, and philosopher Wendell Berry has gifted his farm to a little Catholic college in Kentucky. One of the students in the program quoted him: “What I stand for, I stand on.” What we stand for, we literally stand on. The medium beneath our feet is the message of our lives. That to which we attend with our time and our hands is what we tell the world we seek.

In writing this I realize, once again, how little of my time I’ve gotten to spend with the hemlock and the hickory, the hawk and crow, the stream bank and the talus field, and friends in the woods and my partner on the farm for the last year. Instead, I’ve spent much of my time in the buildings and here, in front of the computer. Sure, I walk to work 19 days out of 20 and get into the woods and onto the farm more often than most. But my work for sustainability education, local government, and writing keeps me inside more than I’d like, and to a degree that can disconnect me from myself. The boxed life I so often criticize has boxed me in. Does it box you in?

Luckily, today is a beautiful new day. It’s still dark outside. But after the sun rises, after I take Meg to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference (PASA, talk about people standing for what they stand on!), and Sacha and I eat breakfast, we will go out to where the peace of wild things greets us and we will spend time with the hickory and the hemlock, the hawk and the crow, and a stream bank or a talus field. And at day’s end, I’ll go to the end of the PASA conference and moderate a panel of university and K-12 educators collaborating on agriculture and garden projects. Having stood together on good ground, we will be bolstering one another for good land.

So today, though I will be boxed some, I will also be taking deeper root in my home. As Mary Berry says in the story I linked at the beginning, I will be homecoming again. I will be taking root more deeply here, “not just for a short amount of time, but forever.” How I live here is my legacy. My legacy is this place.


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