Finding My Sense of Place

Somewhere on Delmarva
Somewhere on Delmarva

My place….where I belong…is a fairly large area, it encompasses many different bio-regions. From the dunes of the Atlantic coast, to the estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay, to the Mountains of western Maryland…this is my place. I am a woodlands woman. I need my green, moist, lush home. This is where my ancestors speak in my ear. This is where I know my medicine.

I grew up on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay, just off of the Magothy River. I grew up in the southern suburbs of Baltimore. I had no woods to tromp around in, I had no fields to run through. All that was presented to me as a kid was the school yard….where I had an ancient pine to climb, where I learned to eat blackberries from the rabbits and the birds, where I got chiggers for the first time scrabbling around on my hands and knees to look at a small plant just emerging from the sand. I had a deep area behind our house and yard; between the back neighbors and us that never got mowed…this is where I found my first weeds that were not dandelions or plantains. My Dad was the only person in the neighborhood to grow a vegetable garden and fruit trees, so I had that also.

I also had Deep Creek Girl Scout Camp in western Maryland in the summers. This is where I first learned about endangered species, where I discovered that the voice in my head was telling the truth…it did know the plants names and what they were used for, and this is where I learned you don’t tell others about ‘the voice’ or they think you’re crazy!

Then there was my grandfather’s boat and the Chesapeake Bay! I learned to troll for trout, how to use an eel for bait, and how chicken tastes really good to crabs, so that my pot would be full! I also learned that plants change from here to there. I learned that the same plant changes depending on the soil it grows in, how salty the water, and how much rain it got. I learned all kinds of things from all the different ecosystems in my place.

Then I moved west, not to western Maryland, not even west of the Appalachians…really west. I moved to the alpine desert of the San Luis Valley of Colorado! For someone from the lush, humid, sea level central Atlantic coast…the desert, dry, no rain conditions at 8000 ft above sea level was a shock. Gone was the green, and with it gone… my soul began to parch also! When we first got there, I saw beauty all around me…the yuccas, the prickly pear in bloom, the pine nuts of the Pinyon pine, and the wildlife. But I soon started to feel worn out, drained, dry. At first I couldn’t figure out why. It made no sense. But then we took a trip up Wolfe Creek Pass to the Continental Divide, and there was green again! That was all it took…green for a day! I knew why things were so wrong for me, why I couldn’t make sense of the healing plants there…it was not my place.

I had once read in a book about native elders a quote that I do not have at my fingertips right now…but it was something to the effect that you cannot take a healer from his/her place, or they lose the medicine, they won’t know the plants or how to act when healing is needed! That explained what happened to me.

I went home. I now live on the Delmarva Peninsula, which is part Delaware, part eastern shore of Maryland and a small piece of Virginia. It is moist, green, and lush, it is home! This is where my heart is, this is where my soul connects to the land, I know my place. My place is here. I may move again, but it will be within the woodland area of the country!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I LOVED reading this and learning more about your childhood. This really gives depth to your other posts. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

  2. Thanks Rebecca…I love hearing what ya’ll think!

    Reply

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