Monday, 6 March 2017

A sense of place

If you've ever stood under a starry night sky, did it make you feel small, yet somehow .. right?

To me, there's something about the sight of the stars - I mean the way they should be seen, not blotted out by street lights and buildings so that only a planet or two twinkles faintly, but the whole vast starry heavens pouring by - that makes me feel .. corrected.

It's not that the uncertainty and the frailty of being human is taken away, but that the uncertainty and frailty seem just right. It makes me laugh (in the way that we laugh when we're faced with truth) and sometimes it scares me, but it's also just delicious to be reminded that I am small, that the Universe is far too vast a thing for me to grasp. I feel let off the hook, I see the folly of ever trying to be of any significance.

Do you know what I mean?

This place that we live, 'the Pontiac', in all its wildness, does that for me night or day. The sky here is so big. The river is so big. The meadows, the forests .. but it's not just the wide open spaces that give me that feeling of smallness that is so important to me. The tiniest of flowers, the little birds, even the farm animals who live quite comfortably outdoors all winter ..
all of these remind me that being human is not the be-all and
Goats are a lot tougher than people.
It was into the -20's with the wind.
They remain unperturbed.
end-all of life on this planet. We're not the pinnacle of evolution (we're kind of devolving in the last few generations, if you ask me, but that's another story) we're just another part of the grand .. the grand .. Whatever It Is.

I spend a lot of time poking around in my own psyche, trying to figure out who I am. I want to be as aware as I can be of my foibles, my prejudices, my weaknesses and yes, my strengths. I find that who I am can't be separated from where I am. We chose to live here based on who we were at the time of that choice, but of course being here has changed us.

All of us are creatures of our environment. If we live in the city, it is less about the place and more about the people; mostly we define cities and neighbourhoods by who lives there. We 'fit in', or not, with the people who surround us. Here in a tiny village at the edge of thousands of miles of wilderness it's a little different. If we're the type of person who wants to be in tune with our surroundings we have to learn to 'fit in' with other species. That really changes us, and I think it can make us feel more human, or at least more aware of what being human means in terms of the grand Whatever It Is, rather than being human strictly amongst others of our kind.

It may come as a bit of a shock to some when they learn about the 'microbiome' of the human body; that each human is actually a walking eco-system of microscopically small creatures, and that their well being determines our own. I find it incredibly cool, and being where I am, a very UN-sterile environment, means my microbiome is constantly replenished by the microscopic beings in the dust I breathe in with every breath, each nibble of a leaf, every raspberry I pluck. Knowing myself as a walking eco-system gives me that same feeling as the starry night sky does. It's humbling, and I'm also very grateful to those little critters for choosing to take up residence in me and keep me healthy.

Not that they are necessarily aware of me, to them I might be the grand Whatever It Is - ha!

I love that none of this thing we call life - none of anything, not even the minerals - ever stands still. There is no 'balance', there is, instead, what some call the 'dynamic disequilibrium' (what a great turn of phrase that is), an intricate dance of countless dancers that goes back so far in time as to be eternal and likely won't ever just stop. It will change incrementally, it will change radically, but always, always, it will change. Do you know what I mean? Can you feel it?

Homeostasis is a word that implies (stasis) some kind of stability, but the actual definition is: "the property of a system within the body of a living organism in which a variable, such as the concentration of a substance in solution, is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant." Did you catch those underlined words? Nothing static about homeostasis then, is there?

Change = stability.

Yummy thought, that. Freeing.

A friend of mine told me recently that she saw me in a dream, swimming in the river, going with the current. I laughed at her for that (sorry Z!) because I do not swim, I am not a water baby. But she was on to something; I do go with the current, or at least try to, the current of life, of the grand Whatever It Is. (Not the social current, mind you, but you all knew that already).

So I embrace the changes. Even the less than socially acceptable changes.    

It took them upstream!
Guess the water will bring them back.

This place reassures me that whatever human beings do is temporary.

The shifting ice will take the floating docks no matter how securely they are moored.

The vast white glare
that is the frozen river.

This place changes me - its sun and wind weather my face.

It brightens my eyes even as it gives them crinkles and furrows
roundabout from squinting at the vast white glare that is the frozen river.

The pollens of our wildflowers and trees, the spores of the fungi in the forests, the microbes we inhale or accidentally eat, does all of that 'culture' us the way we culture cheese? Ha! It probably does.

We're inoculated with the 'stuff' of where we live, it changes us from the inside out.

Where do you live? Does the place you live, live inside you, too?


  1. Ahhh, yes! And a jillion times yes! To be one with Creation each time I step out my door, I know it, I feel it and am one with it!

  2. I loved the photo of the bird footprint! Neat photo. Where I'm at right now on vacation does (live inside me). Where I actually live is trying hard to live inside of me. But grumpy me keeps telling it to go away: I don't like it's kind. LOL! (Kind of written in humor!) But it'll wear me down. I love the grand "Whatever it is," and I know it will and always does take care of me.