While waiting during those visiting hours when blessed sleep eased away my partner's pain, I started reading Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman, a Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito novel and I don't want to stop and I don't want it to end. Tony Hillerman's daughter picked up the characters her dad had created and they live again. This novel is placed in the Navajo Nation, and much in Monument Valley.
The summer I turned 10 my family spent in Arizona and New Mexico where my dad was working. During the late afternoons and weekends we explored the desert and found the beauty of it. I studied the Disappearing West website and the acres lost to all kinds of development including oil and gas exploration grows every year, grows every day. The West I saw may be very different on the next visit, since I learned only a small percentage of lands are actually protected in those states.
Several offers arrived in the mail this spring asking such things as: Got Land? and announcing: We've got buyers! Looking into many of these brokers and the slick postcards and slicker websites left me wondering who really is buying land and what is happening to it. One neighbor of mine sold a very small tract of land not knowing the buyer would sign a contract and build 2 huge chicken houses on it, 3 miles from Vinita. The issue throughout Oklahoma may get ever more complicated if the SQ 777 Right to Farm passes in the fall. Land ownership has great responsibilities attached to this moment and into the future.
Reading the Hillerman novel took me back to the desert with the descriptions of the formations and the names given by the tribes native to the area, names based on their creation stories. The Cherokee had stories and named our sacred sites in our ancestral homeland and in a perfect world we would all go back to our past lands, like the many millions who follow the tradition of going to Mecca. I have had the opportunity to visit some old Cherokee sites but have also walked Fraser historic sites in Scotland and must encourage everyone to go root searching and find these origin places, connect with them and know in that space how related we are to our ancestors and how they struggled to allow us these moments on our earth. These sacred places need to be protected not so much for our ancestors but for the future and the connections our grandchildren need to discover.
Follow roots where-ever they take you. We needed all of these to be who we are. And thinking of roots took me to plants and gardens and farmers' markets! How connected we are to the growers in our past when we begin to truly experience it as we simply dig in our own soil. In-town Gardening, 'the movement' may not furnish all the fruits and vegetables a community may need and that is ok, but it can give the motivation to eat healthier foods and give us a real appreciation of the hard work growing food can be, and how inaccessible good foods are to some people. Community gardens can grow a neighborhood together and revitalize small towns. Plant a few seeds, enjoy what happens next and we'll be seeing you at a Farmer's Market soon.