Tag Archives: Feeling at home

pulling up roots; planting new seeds

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photographs by Grace Lichtner

At the beginning of this month I was contemplating what it felt like to be “at home” in a new place. I questioned and discussed this with many people. The response that made the most sense to me was “to be at home is to be connected”. After this month of exploring new territory, I tend to agree with this statement. Whether it’s feeling connected to the land, the water, the culture, or the people who I am surrounded by, feeling at home really does come down to the connections that I make in my immediate environment.

In these past four weeks, I, along with my housemates here, have gone through a lot of changes leaving old patterns behind and creating new ones. (in eating, sleeping, and communicating). I am becoming aware of my own reactions while also watching and observing my good friend Jim gradually build the foundation for his new physical home. Pulling up roots from one place can feel like a shock to the system, but I am learning that if I am able to branch out in new ways I will quickly regain nutrients and energy from the fertile soil around me. Studying my natural environment here on the island has helped me feel more connected. This time has offered me valuable lessons including, taking the time to nurture new seeds and making sure not to rush the growing process.

Like coral branching out we all are testing our flexibility stretching our limits and reaching for new connections. As a part of my “field guide” creation this month, I was asked to connect with and collect knowledge from locals on the island through interviews. I have been lucky enough to find the most helpful and kind individuals who have gone out of their way to help me feel at home and feel informed about the foreign terrain and culture. I am grateful for their initial guidance in my first wanderings here. My interviews with them have been informal yet informative. Through our conversations, I am learning by absorbing what it is they love and want to share from their island living perspective, leaving the role of the interviewer behind and taking on the role of the listener, observer and new friend.

My first real connection was Trisa. New friend and “on island” confidant Trisa immediately connected me to good people, good eats and great ways to access the water through a paddle board lesson and snorkel excursion.  She also connected me to near by neighbors of mine Theresa and Aaron who are also working on a house remodel project. Theresa writes her own blog offering all kinds of tips for a field guide to island living.

Ty and Adrian of Bush Tribe Eco Adventures are two other fantastic connections. Through Bush Tribe, I made my first explorations hiking and exploring. Ty also manages an amazing place called Discovery Grove where I learned much about the history, plants, and native fruits and herbs on island. Through Ty I was also able to make connections with friendly visitors to the island who then introduced me to Captain Dee. Dee takes visitors sailing and snorkeling.  Our excursion brought us to a near by tiny island for some of the best snorkeling I had ever experienced. Ty also introduced me to Dale who runs the fantastic local Sejah farm.

I really have had such little time here, not enough to fully engage in the history or culture of the island yet, but I am seeing each new connection as a seed that has potential to branch out into a whole new garden of possibilities. My “field guide” for St. Croix has barely begun at the end of this month but I am looking forward to taking my time cultivating the exploration and watching it grow.

1/30/14

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

 

this must be the place

“Home is where I want to be – but I guess I’m already there”                                                     – Taking Heads “This Must be the Place (Naïve Melody)”

Today I board a plane leaving home in 5 degree weather.  Tomorrow I will land in 85 degree weather.  A shift of environments and a shift in homes. This constant moving of my home in the past few years has left me thinking a lot about what the concept of  “home” really is or means to me.  Is it a place? A dwelling? Having personal belongings? Being with a person or people?  Or is it a feeling as this month’s Chapter writer Ashley Duffalo suggests in her month’s assignment.

It’s been on my mind more than usual this past week. Maybe it’s because of the recent holidays spent with family, or the changes I’m currently making, or maybe the simple fact that I can’t remember my zip code anymore? (This jaunt to St. Croix will be my 10th move in 2 ½ years.)

I remember writing in my high school yearbook that I wanted to be a Bedouin when I grew up.  I’m not sure if I was predicting what my adult life would look like but looking back now, it seems maybe I did become a Bedouin of sorts. The Bedouin’s were an Arab tribe engaged in nomadic herding, and agriculture.  Traditionally they lived in the desert in tents. The scarcity of water and permanent pastoral land required them to move constantly.  It was the environment that shaped the placement of their home.

I have not become a true Bedouin as I am not relying on farming and herding abilities to keep me alive – but I do feel that the environment around me is what shapes my sense of home.  I thank Ashley for recognizing that and pushing me to not only analyze this fact but document it as well in a creative way.

Before leaving this week, I made one more stop in Friendsville, MD. This is the place that has felt most like home to me in the past 2 ½ years.  I would travel to this town from wherever I was staying to visit a handful of fantastic friends including Living Chapters Referee (and now traveling partner Cosmic Jim) as well as my good friend  and poet Ina Clare Hicks.  My last conversation with Ina before leaving brought me closer to understanding the concept of feeling at home.

I will leave you with her thoughts –

She said she always felt at home sitting in front of a window. She would sit still peering out of her favorite window and gaze at the landscape that was visible on the other side of the glass. Sitting there she would remember all the other landscapes that she had gazed upon in past homes. On the inside, the stillness and the quiet brought her a feeling she called home and on the outside she created a connection to the vision, the land and environment which she also called home.

To me what she is talking about is the same thing that Ashley was talking about in her chapter. It’s the quest to connect to your environment while also staying connected to yourself.

I look forward to cultivating this balance by sitting in front of a new favorite window with a view.

1/3/14

 Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.