Throughout my life, I’ve heard people complain countless times about the region of the world that I live in — it’s too cold, the economy is not good enough, there’s not enough city life, it snows too much, it’s too humid in the summer, it’s too on and on and on…
Sometimes, when I tell people that I plan to stay here I can feel their questioning eyes. Why?
The thing is, this is my home.
These are the forests I fell in love with when I was young, and these are the forests where I would like to grow old.
I am a big fan of bioregionalism.
“Bioregionalism is a call to become knowledgeable guardians of the places where we live. Although we are seldom aware of it, we live in naturally unique physical, ecological, historical and cultural areas whose boundaries are more often ridgetops than county lines and state borders.
Bioregionalism is a call to get to know our local land and water; our local weather and sky; our local plants and animals; our local neighbors and communities. It is a call to join our hearts, hands and minds with what has been, what is, and what could be, in this place.” (Quote taken from this site.)
When people continuously move throughout their life, they are not able to develop long-lasting community, a deep sense of appreciation for place; it is difficult to know the spirit of the land, its peoples and the meaning of our place in it.
I could explore the areas near my home every day for the rest of my life and it would be difficult to ever say that I knew any piece of these forests, cliffs, meadows, and waters intimately. There is far too much to see.
Yet as we move into a time where we begin to respect the Earth again, where we re-establish local economies, community, and a sense of place, I believe we will rediscover what it is to know a bioregion well.
This is not to say it is wrong or boring or undesirable to travel, but that a piece of us knows where home is and longs to discover that place fully — to feel a part of something larger than ourselves.
I don’t know what others are complaining about. I love this land.
However, I am also unique in that I do not crave big cities, lights, fastness, or more stress than is already inherent in the business of life. I feel sad and very disconnected when I am in the midst of concrete jungles. I crave wild things — sounds, sights, and especially the feeling of freedom.
People have accepted an idea that freedom can be bought, or earned, or taken from others. I think this approach is backward. Freedom comes from knowing how to feed oneself, how to traverse in nature without a GPS, and in finding a community of people to support you whether or not you have a big bank account.
When I am in nature, I feel free.
I love this landscape, these seasons, this rich soil that can support such amazing foods, the coyotes, the hawks. It’s beautiful and it is home.
“The catastrophic effects on Earth’s biosphere due to human activities since the inception of the industrial era have become imperiling to all life. A transformation of fundamental aspects of consciousness is urgently required to halt and reverse this destructive process. Conservation of resources and environmentalism alone are not adequate to the task. The concept of a bioregion as the basic location where people live, and the practice of reinhabitation of that life-place by its residents, are necessary to rejoin human beings into the overall web of life. Harmonizing with the natural systems of each bioregion is a necessary step toward preserving the whole biosphere.” – Peter Berg
[Photos taken at the ledges within Cuyahoga Valley National Park.]