Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day - The Place Where You Live

Been thinking about this day and the impact to our lives today. The amazing thing is that in many cases our children can't even imagine an America of institutionalized racism. How amazing is that?!

In 2010 I wrote a short article for Orion Magazine. It speaks to the Southern American landscape....

Home is a 1936 refurbished ‘family’ off-shoot of the original plantation house.  Our acreage is part of the remains of what was once a 3000-acre family-owned farm going back to 1803.  In this community our house is more connected to the builder’s family name than our own, so etched in the minds of the locals – “oh, you live at the Wilson place,” and “you’re on the hill.” My pride has moved past the offense.

My neighbor cuts miles of trails through the 80 unspoiled acres behind us, has for over 20 years.  It’s not his land but he cares for it and was allowed to build a nice lodge and stone fire-pit for himself there.  It sits upon a giant granite cliff overlooking the life-teeming marsh below.  My part is to visit the little lodge on weekends with my children to swing and rest in the hammock that spans the rustic interior walls.  Once my boss visited from Ireland and was amazed at the way one property would seamlessly roll into the next – “where are the stone walls?” 

Folks here clearly reject the idiom that good fences make good neighbors.  This amiable attitude has been shaped through generations.  My house tells also of their sense of the practical and functional. This morning I passed through the hall of my house where the former wood furnace was centrally placed, once radiating heat in a way that shows an understanding of efficient thermal engineering.  I stepped into boots that are always by the back door. Walking outside, I watched my children making much of fallen branches, black walnuts, and mud.  I wanted to check for deer that rest on pine straw beds in the small forest at the back section of my land.  Arriving there, I looked again at the carved granite stones that were once the foundation of the slave quarters.  This often forces me to better balance the peaceful feel of my community.  The rocks are the foundation to the very worst of human nature.  And that mind-set, like the rocks, is not easily visible but firmly planted and unmoved. 

Have the best Tuesday possible (if you took Monday off)!