On a late summer evening, my friend Lisa and I walk in the old forest where she lives not far from my home. I admire the roots of trees clinging to the sides of a steep gully leading to Saw Mill Creek.
I feel sisterhood with these rooted beings as I grip the earth and hold on in precarious and unsure times. I lean into big oaks and beeches for comfort and stability. Even though my balance can be unsure because of inner ear damage from Meniere’s Disease, my hiking boots anchor me.
The creek is bone dry from lack of rain during a moderate drought, but we can see how high the water runs in washes and drainage channels in wet times. Despite sheer banks, the trees stand tall and straight, old and stately.
I’ve been rooted to my land since 1972 when Vic and I bought a place with a sagging foundation, a sinking walk, and a water supply that wouldn’t pass an e-coli test. Vic focused on the straight roof line, sunsets, and mature forest, not the years of work ahead.
This summer, I had a new stone walk built from the driveway to the front porch, flat enough for a walker, wide enough for a wheelchair or walking while holding someone’s arm, and a railing to grab when using the two gentle steps. The original walk was uneven, sinking, and slippery in winter, so we designed one for the future. My future.
Even though Vic isn’t here to take care of this place, I have helpers who know the house and land well. Parts of the house are square-nailed old from the 1800s, so she needs vigilant tending. This year it was the new walk and replacing some rotting window trim.
Winter can be harsh here, but the evergreens stay ever green, and near the stream, green moss covers granite stones pushed here from Canada by glaciers. Those heavy boulders are planted here like me.
Next summer, my helper will paint the fading siding which he put up and painted almost 20 years ago. I’ll stick with Benjamin Moore Forest Green with stark white trim. Green is the color of the Green Man and the cycles of life, the color of hope. Green reminds me how grateful I am to live in a world that’s green even during this unusually dry year.
I know the trees and paths in this forest. I know the streams and swamp. I eye the gypsy moth egg cases on tree trunks and know an infestation is already here and will get worse. I look over the ample wood pile in the barn and feel secure. I know how to keep the wood stove humming and change the filter on the water system, and when a task is beyond me, I know who to call. This is my place on earth.
Another woman might move to town, live in an apartment, and walk on sidewalks, but I’ve grown deep roots here for nearly 50 years. Like this tree, I’m not letting go. Not yet.
Where are your roots planted? Are they in a place where you’ve been a long time, or did you put down new roots more recently? I’m grateful for my rural community which includes one of my sons. I’d like to convince my other son to return to NY, but he found land with ancient oak trees and mammoth stones. For now, he’s rooted there.