Everyone has their place — the place that if they suddenly disappeared, you’d know you could surely find them there. For an Audubon member, you would find them, binoculars and field guide in had, in a Glacier Park meadow that resembles a Claude Monet painting with bursts of yellow, green, and white, and is filled with the rushing sound of spring run-off.
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[O]f all the places that are mine, if I could choose just one, my choice would be the cabin. No, not “a” cabin or “my” cabin. “The one and only cabin.
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My cabin is a real cabin, with old, rough logs coated with fading mustard yellow paint. An aged, slightly squeaky water pump stands on the porch, and a tire swing hangs like an old rubber noose from one of the nearby trees. I have been swinging on that old tire ever since I could walk. The cabin has been a permanent fixture in my life.
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When I’m at the cabin, I can enjoy the pure sweet sound of nothing but the rush of the creek and the constant twangy thwack of the antiquated screen door soaring back into its frame, despite the hollers of “Don’t slam the screen door!” The cabin is a place where, no matter what is happening at that time, you can be freed from it. At the cabin, I can detach myself from whatever is weighing me down. At the cabin, peace can become a blissful reality.
There’s a lovely Irish word — tenelach — that means the relationship that you can have a with land, air, and water. A deep connection that allows you to listen to the song of the Earth. Ms. Stolte’s essay hints at a tenelach.
To develop a tenelach, you have to be open to having that kind of relationship, even when you know that, like any relationship, you’ll have to take the bitter with the sweet. Sometimes, the song that the Earth is singing is a dirge.
In an unpublished manuscript, Aldo Leopold, credited as forbearer of the modern environmental movement, simply, but eloquently states, “There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other and the relation of people to land.”
Standing on his shoulders and those of many others, I can say that there are three things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, the relation of people to land, and the relation of people to themselves.
I do not know what the future holds, except that either we will co-create a sustainable human culture or we will not. I also know that what we do now influences what happens next and that the past and future are only concepts. Therefore, this moment is what matters most to me. I take care of the future by taking care of here and now. This is simple, but not easy. The mysterious animated spark of life is always whole and here and now. So while I care deeply about the future, it is only the present that I have access to and must consistently tend.
What do you do to consistently tend your relationship with place here, now, in the present? What songs are you hearing?