Spirit of Place


  Ok.  I’m just about ready to rest my case.  I’ve written several times of the special beauty of my lawn.  The photo above ought to put all doubts to rest.  Representative of a good part of my small plot is that arrangement of several grasses, flowered clover, yellow oxalis, and wild strawberries. 

  Most people spend untold hours in the cultivation of their yards, but end up with only blade after boring blade of the same dang thing.  I spend as little time as possible and, well, results speak for themselves. 

  As opposed to most, I don’t attempt to inflict my own narrow opinion of what it should look like upon the earth.  Instead, I endeavor to create a condition in which such subtle wonder can unfold of its own accord.  Believe it or not, I planted virtually none of what you see above.

  What is more is that those colors are nearly perfect counterpoint for the string of Tibetan prayer flags strung across my roof high above.  It is said that with each flutter of every panel a prayer is repeated. They are nearly always moving.

Prayer Flags 010

  Perhaps that’s how the character of my lawn developed, having not always been so.  Only several years after the death of a brother (in whose memory I connected our chimney and roof vent pipe with the red, blue, green, white, and yellow squares) did things begin to change.  Or at least to my notice.

  It was imperceptible at first.  Then we had several seasons and several families of ducks that made home in front of our house.  And elsewhere coons and deer and cats and dogs and varieties of rodents wild and domesticated.  Five tree houses and now a yurt.  Once, while digging a hole for a fence post I found an ancient stone hatchet head.

yurt 1

  The prayer flags eventually wear out and I replace them with new crisp colors covered with tiny uchen letters.  It is somehow comforting to watch them waft in the breeze.  (Even though some folks ask just why we have our laundry line way up there in the encircling crown of maple and ash!)

  We’ve been here thirty + years and I absolutely don’t mean to say that I’ve things just the way I want them.  Yes, I trim and fertilize from time to time, but that’s just so these particular emergent rhythms don’t dampen.

  DH Lawrence wrote that “Different places on the face of the earth have different vital effluence, different vibration, different chemical exhalation, different polarity with different stars: call it what you like.  But the spirit of place is a great reality.”*

  We’re all – flora, fauna, parents, and children – deeply imbued with the great reality of the spirit of our contorted tiny bit of the planet.

*Speaking of Lawrence, it may be obvious, but I’m also trying to make sure that the gamekeeper my wife runs off with is me…

One Response to “Spirit of Place”

  1. andrew Says:

    dad i love this “We’re all – flora, fauna, parents, and children – deeply imbued with the great reality of the spirit of our contorted tiny bit of the planet.”

    I think that humanity in general is at a crossroads where we are fully realizing that what we thought we could control, we actually dont. And that we are only being fickle in our attempts to impose what we percieve as “order” and “control” on our small spaceship known as earth. The sooner we realize that we are only small parts of a larger emergent process and devote our energy and recources to a goal that benefits us the better.

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