Today, as I pulled weeds from our rock garden, I realized the rocks held tight to these intruders as if implying they were here to stay. For those of you who know my blogs—yes—there is a link between what was intended and how our garden actually grows.

EXAMPLE AUTOMOBILES: I was born and raised in Trinidad, Colorado and until I was seven years old we did not have an automobile. So when Dad came home with IT Mother insisted we put on cleans clothes and shoes (we went barefoot all the time). Sometime later we learned we were to take a family trip to Denver. In those days IT was the center of our Colorado. We all got sick from the fumes rising into the car but no one complained because Denver was our destination! Compare this to today when some use their vehicles for weapons & lawyers are everywhere.

EXAMPLE EDUCATION: We learned what there was to learn in those days. Books were in print and never up-to-date. One BIG scare while in high school was the fact We the People were warned that the Russians were coming for us. We were advised, by those who said the Russians were coming, that when they did arrive we were to hide beneath our wooden desks. Naively my friends and family took this threat seriously. These days there are ultimately much easier ways for Russia to attack us without touching our shores.

EXAMPLE TECHNOLOGY: Pencils and paper and rulers and machines that clicked and libraries and calculations on paper and cursive and Hallmark cards we wrote in and typewriters and Gregg Shorthand Simplified and storytelling by writers in hardbound books one could smell and television and connecting with others by telephone and whatever you wish to add to this list.

EXAMPLE FOOD: We had local stores where everyone knows your name. Where people could promise to pay for food later and they did. Where most had gardens with vegetables and all food was cooked by hands who knew the purpose of its nutrients. Contrast the warnings on the news these days as to what is or is not good for us or contaminated or a new version of yesterday’s food and those end dates on packaged products of all kinds. I’m curious if the dates are arbitrary or real?

EXAMPLE MEDICINE: I do not remember taking pills when I grew up. There were no cupboards to lock in case a child might get curious about what looked like candy. And did we have as many illnesses before the list of their possibilities started to run across every television station asking us to call our doctor just in case we have one of the symptoms mentioned. And I question if in fact if marijuana helps some illnesses why haven’t the pharmaceutical companies jumped onboard. It’s not like marijuana hasn’t been around forever.

EXAMPLE LEGAL MARIJUANA: Just a question: Are the legal monies for selling marijuana actually reaching the COLORADO CHILDREN to enhance their education. Some say yes and some say no. This question is like those weeds I chose to pull this morning: intruders in my garden that are coming harder and harder to pull.

“A Sense of Place…”

Janet's logo textRecently—watching the evening news—I wondered where is that sense of place I knew so well as a child. The place of family and shelter and protection until that one day at school we were taught how to hide beneath our wooden desks warning The Russians Are Coming! That did not pan out but it did, for the first time, educate me to know that my sense of place had just changed forever.

Also, in those days, we were convinced that, if we chose to, we could dig our way down and find China. Given I was reading a book about China at the time I was more interested in this effort than my two brothers. Their sense of place at the time was building their forts using old wooden boxes and scrap paraphernalia they found as they played all over the neighborhood. Many years later I was fortunate enough to see China: after a very long plane ride. As the drone of the plane flew on I smiled to myself thinking back to the broken wooden spatula my mother encouraged me to use if I was serious about digging my way to another sense of place.

So I ask: On Our Earth Today is there A SENSE OF PLACE anywhere? Anger and frustration and killing fields and lines not to cross and on and on… I need say no more.

So I pose this: If we have forgotten or don’t think about and don’t care about our sense of place then we Humankind are no longer writing the Life Stories of the Individual or Earth itself.

Maybe we should look to Mother Nature’s trees and the animals and the oceans and the land  because they are indeed grounded in A Sense of Place.


Signpost of TimeIs it Road 52-C in rural Iowa covered in rust-red powdery earth that billows from beneath a dented fender on farmer Abel’s truck as he drives to his corn fields?

Or a snowbound road in Bismarck, North Dakota—closed! January had waited, impatiently, for the first Canadian cold front of the season to take shape. When it did, She blew hard southward; satisfied.

Some roads are soothing, like the steady flowing motion of the Volga River where on-shore Russian hawkers, male, display their wares. Wooden stall after stall and the word nyet (Нет) hovering above the din.

There was a narrow dirt road we parked alongside so long ago. It was there my English grandmother, dressed all in black, her starched white apron blowing in the wind, waited to embrace my childhood.  

The learning-a-lesson road can be immediate or painfully long; velvety smooth or rough with jagged peril.

Maybe there’s a favorite road you drive down: the first time by accident. The second time; intentional. Something draws you even if you can’t identify it.

The Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz was wrought with flying monkeys; the Horse of a Different Color; a Wizard; Scarecrow; Tin Man; Lion, and Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers. Lest we forget: the Good and Wicked Witches and the Munchkins. Dorothy’s Toll Road taught her it wasn’t her ruby slippers that held the power of place. It was her intent to be there that always led directly home.

Our roads were set in motion by those who came before us. The path they honed imprinted our destiny; not predestined it. The power of place, like Dorothy discovered, is within our reach. It all depends on the roads we choose!

On That Day…

November 23, 2010 – On that day I was beleaguered by previous lectures still swirling in my mind. On that day we were to visit an outdoor diorama that covered a full block in an old town in Russia (less vital than Volgograd or Uglich; towns we’d visited days before). On that day I chose to forgo the eddy about to assault my mind and instead, sat my bum down on a wooden bench in a small courtyard nearby the diorama. It was there, on that day, for the first time that I experienced the significance of the word freedom.

Wearing dark blue pants, a long-sleeved white shirt with Russian lettering on the pocket, the large man stood rigid alongside the curb across the street from where I was sitting. It was, as he leaned into the oncoming traffic that I first saw the metal wand that flicked off sunlight like empty cans hit by bullets at target practice. He raised his wand and motioned to an oncoming car to pull to the curb. The driver didn’t ignore the slight gesture. (Had it been me, I would have missed the nuance.)

The male driver pulled to a quick stop and placed both hands on the wheel. The woman in the front seat sat upright. The boy (six or seven) who had been leaning forward scooted back into the seat. I sensed anxiety from the body language of the occupants in the car. The uniformed man walked slowly around the car, tapping with the wand at doors, windows, trunk until he hit hard on the engine hood. This gesture drew the driver to exit the car and open the hood with great haste; then he stood back. After poking at the engine, the wand drew the woman from the car and moved her to the sidewalk. The wand then commanded the driver to open the trunk. He did and stepped back again. Everything in the trunk was revealed, scattered and tossed about until the wand seemed satisfied. It was now the boy’s turn.

On that day it was shocking to see a father open a door for his son while the wand prodded the boy from the car and held him in place until he finished telling the boy something that I couldn’t hear, let alone understand. So, on that day, as I sat on my bum, I decided never to take my American freedoms for granted nor squander them on convention.

To this day, I wonder if the boy, on that day, took for granted the imprisonment of his thoughts.