The Broad is Back!

November 15, 2007

Visceral beauty

Filed under: fatherland,nature,New Broads — by maggiec @ 7:26 pm

I was driving through the back roads of Massachusetts a while ago thinking how lucky I was to be in New England in the autumn.  I have lived in and visited many of the world’s most beautiful places–walked in the Alps, seen the green fields of Ireland, eyed the terrible beauty of the North Atlantic in England and the still calm of the Pacific beaches in Asia.  But none of it stirs me like the red and gold beauty of the Northeast in autumn.

 I felt a tug in my guts–a physical manifestation of a love that I don’t feel for anywhere else.  And it got me to thinking.  Is there really something to this “fatherland” thing?  Are there really roots or ties I have to here that I don’t have for anywhere else?  Why do I love this place as I love no other?

These thoughts scare me.  I like to think of my self as a citizen of the world.  I like to think that I haven’t harmed my child by giving him an international existence and a physically rootless sense of “home”.  But then I think, perhaps I’m wrong.

I remember the first time I came back for autumn in New York.  I had been away for five years at that point, but my cousin was getting married in October, so I came home.  She had her reception at Bear Mountain State Park, in the mountains on the banks of the Hudson.  I remember walking through the woods thinking that the air itself was infused with color, heavier than normal air as it had different properties.  I could breathe the oranges, reds and golds and they filled my body with their power and warmth.  A mystical moment I remember to this day.  When I left, I was full of longing and homesickness for a place for the first time ever.Bear Mountain

And from that time on, I remembered what I was missing.  One of the joys for me this year is being in a place where it all looks so familiar.  Yes, New York and New England are different places, but Nature knows no boundaries.  The Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley aren’t that different from other river valleys in New England, and here I live around the Nashua River. 

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I can unabashedly say I love this place.  It is in my being and in my fiber, and this is the earth from which I come.  This is a source of my strength. 

And this is a type of homesickness that books and people don’t often talk about.  People can understand us missing people, food, festivals, even shops, but the Earth?  The mountains?  The rivers?  I had beautiful mountains in Taiwan.  In Switzerland I had the Alps for goodness sake! 

I have indelible memories of drinking in the peace and beauty of mountains around the world.  The New Year’s eve spent with a dear friend, sitting on the side of Yamingshan, gaining strength for the coming year. 

Yamingshan

The feeling of insignificance and transience I felt walking through glacial ice to the top of Jungfrau filled me with a sense of awe of God that I hold in me still.

Jungfraujoch

But none of these beauties compare with the sense of belonging and calm I gain while gazing at New York’s Adirondacks.

I have no answer.  I have very little of a point.  I think the only point I have is that this feeling of physically being a part of the land bothers me.  I don’t know that this is a good thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about loving my country lately.  I do love it.  Now, what do I do with that love?  How is this love going to manifest itself?  What does it mean if everyone feels this as well?

All questions for another day.

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