He was no longer the person who thought that a little house in Swan Lane and a wherry of his own was all a man might desire. It seemed he had become another man altogether. Eating the food of this country, drinking its water, breathing its air, had remade him, particle by particle. This sky, those cliffs, that river were no longer the means by which he might return to some other place. This was where he was: not just in body, but in soul as well. A (wo)man’s heart was a deep pocket s/he might turn out and be amazed at what s/he found there. ---Kate Grenville, The Secret River
As I talk with staff, board members, tour leaders and volunteers, I hear the word home as though it is written in the currents of Central Oregon’s rivers and creeks. Women and men (note my alteration of the quote above) speak of bright air and the scent of pine; of the cliffs above Whychus Creek; of basalt and secret places. Few of these people were born here. Most have followed something sometimes known, sometimes mysterious to this home.
The sky, river and cliffs in Grenville’s novel are in New South Wales. “He” is a former thief sent as punishment to that place. He has had no choice in his deportation and exile. Most of us have.
The greater question now is: How will we care for our new home? How will we allow ourselves to be remade particle by particle into active occupants of this irreplaceable land? How can we commit to becoming the people who will be remembered for caring for these lands so well that we became part of them?
Please used the comment box below to share your thoughts. I’d love to read your answers to those questions.