Valentine's Day Love of the Land
Written by Climate Impact Corp Staff Sydney Trimble, Feb. 14, 2023
The title of this essay, Love of the Land is vast and open-ended, just like the many different nature-scapes across this big world. I realized that my reasons for loving the land would be different from why another person would love the land. All of these reasons are valid and worth celebrating. Life as humans can be so busy and sometimes that is of our own making. Still, the very essence of living here, now among this beautiful world and experiencing it all with our senses and with each other deserves to be emotionally acknowledged, again and again.
I would like to share some others’ reasons for why they love the land.
Matthew, a Vision Keeper of LAA wrote:
I love the land because I love myself.
I love the land because I love my children.
I serve the land and the land serves me.
The land is my parent and my child.
The land is my partner.
Dani, our wonderful Trailblazer of LAA wrote this touching piece:
Hello Mother Earth
You’ve heard our every footsteps since the days we learned how to walk around you
Splashed and played with us in the waters of your beautiful lakes and rivers and puddles
Overtime modernity called us indoors, to computers and phones where we have pictures of you on our backdrops so we don’t entirely forget you
But I’ve grown lonesome for you
I’m sorry I left
I finally sat with your children the trees
Named one Bob
The other Steve
And I cried
You have always been there
You are always there
That’s why I love you
No matter what us humans do, who we are
We can always come back to you
My own reasons for loving the land started long ago. As a child, I was no stranger to the wooded land behind our home. Lots of hours and effort was put into building imaginative playscapes and natural jungle gyms. I started foraging young with a book called The Illustrated Encyclopedia to Healing Remedies and I recall asking my dad to buy all these different plants so I could make teas, oils, salves and the like. In the end, I think I only developed a plot of garden mint and Russian sage so I supplemented with what I could find like the wild onion and false strawberries growing in our yard. I dedicated symbolic, practically sacred spaces that made me feel something I could not explain. Places like high in the large wild Osage orange trees that I knew must have had some kind of magic within. They made me feel brave, connected, creative and most importantly - a sense of comfort even when I was all alone in the forest. Out there, I found solace being without other humans because I was aware that I was with many other beings, even though I could not talk to them or did not look like them. What I was developing out there in the woods was the basis of an interconnected spirituality to Nature, our common Mother. I just did not know how to say it at that age.
I cannot explain exactly how my relationship to the land changed but I know it was gradual. I played less outside, spent more time inside watching T.V. if I was not doing chores or homework and I became more interested in people, myself included. On my own, I was working so hard to be like an adult, dress like an adult, think like an adult. After all, I was the youngest so I often felt like I had to catch up. I tried my best to model the stoic workaholic mindset I saw in most adults as I moved through high school. It would have done me good to seek more alone time in nature, allowing me time to relax in living and connect to myself and the earth again. But I remember now I have no control over the past, only the present.
The start of my college years were polar opposite to how I ended them. My first major was chemical engineering and I had the vague intention to work with the medical industry, to help people. But I think I spent a lot of time distracting myself so I would not have to imagine what my career would look like, balancing chemicals and stress. I stuck it out for two years, mustering my ‘bite the bullet and bare it’ attitude to skim by in STEM classes until I finally had to face the truth: I did not want to be learning any of this stuff and I definitely did not want the careers that came with it. My passion was zapped, my nerves and grades fried and my health had started to wear thin with the stress. What you resist, persists right? I had to make some changes in my life, whether I was ready or not. I had to learn that it would be okay to let go of the familiar and to trust what comes from the unknown.
My switch into environmental studies was a no brainer but I still had found ways to be hard on myself. I had imposter syndrome because everyone seemed to know each other and had been advocates since high school. I felt so logical and detached from emotions because it was how I had operated for the past several years. Environmental issues woke me up - brought awareness to my body and soul as I began to feel very strongly about microplastics and food waste. It was new to me but I found my way, during a pandemic and online classes. I regularly did trash clean-ups, got involved in worm composting, and eventually got a role as the Interim Zero Waste Coordinator of my campus. I was tapped into campus sustainability and I was thriving in the ways I had always wanted. But admittedly something was missing for me. I longed for more time to play, to be outside and just enjoy living again, without looming deadlines or to-do lists. Enjoy living like I used to, out in the woods by myself.
With graduation coming up, I knew I could either stay in the same place or try something new. Something shiny had started to catch my thoughts, an opportunity up North. A year prior, I had sat next to and excitedly chatted with a farmer on the North Shore about all the research and work he had done on his farm, which sounded absolutely beautiful to me. I had gotten his contact information before our plane landed in Chicago. I reached out and emailed him, asking if they needed any farm interns for the summer and the answer was “Always!” So it was set. Upon graduation and the gift of a car, I moved away from my home state of Illinois to work on a Minnesota farm for the summer.
But I did not work like I had before, in measurement of productivity and forcing my own will. I lived to the fullest extent I had been able to since I was a child! I washed myself and played in lakes after long days of forestry, planting or weeding. I made new familial bonds, not only with humans but other beings. I learned what it was like living off the grid and doing our best to live in agreement with the land. My days were spent ensuring personal survival, feeding myself with my own two hands. It was simple. I fell back into the love of the land. It was a feeling similar to the very first love we have with our caregivers. Mother Earth held me in their arms when I cried over heartbreak and life changes I had to accept. They whispered in my ear, “just breathe, be here now, and trust in me” as I sat out on the dock catching the last sun rays of the day, the dragonflies doing the same as they landed on me.
I love the land because they are always there for me, for us humans. No matter how much we may abuse them, Nature will always be the best teacher of balance and reaching equilibrium again. It may not always be in the timeline that works best for us, but it will happen eventually. They are our greatest teacher and reminds us to be aware of cycles. Hormonally, seasonally, and throughout the entirety of our lives, there are cycles we cannot resist but are there to be our guides when it all feels so overwhelming. All we have to do is give some time and attention to listening for them. Miigwech for reading and may you reflect on your own reasons why you love the land today.