I have lived in Minnesota for a total of eleven years. Josh has lived here for twenty five. We are both transplants brought here by college (Josh) and whimsy (me). We are tied here by the two boys we share with other parents. I suppose it's not a bad place to be tied to and at this point it feels like I would choose to stay even if that were not so. In the last few years at the same time we have been knitting together a family, Minnesota has been becoming home for us. I mean this on a deeper level, too. It started with the people and the community - beloved friends, an interest in local politics, etc. Lately, however, it has become a deeper identification with the land that has drawn us in.
It was not always that way for either of us. Josh remarks that he resisted exploring this landscape because he was always planning on returning to Alaska and he didn't think any place else could offer all the things of his original home. That, of course, is his story to tell in detail. For me, as a younger adult, I had a sort of wanderlust. I moved here because I didn't want to return to Chicago after graduating from college. I left here for my New York adventure for three years. When I decided to return here in 2001, I still had in mind the possibility of other places. Eight years later, I can't bear to leave here. While I am still an explorer, my energies are now focused on depth more the breadth. This place like any other is inexhaustible in the sense that one lifetime is not enough to know everything about it. And yet it is contained enough so that I do feel some security of ownership. Not all is new yet not all is known. This must be the balance that powers longtime commitments to anything - a marriage, a career, a place.
And so regarding the landscape of my adopted home. In these last few years (as some of you may have noticed), I've become obsessed with the plants. It started with the desire to garden and finally having a good space to experiment with that. It also started on a series of long bike excursions that opened my eyes to the amazing native plants and wildflowers. The most striking thing is that the learning curve is much longer on this than any area of study I've ever attempted. Usually, when I don't get something right away, I get bored or frustrated and give up. With this, however, I continue to be compelled to learn the names of beautiful and delicious things. And this is the first year that it seems to be starting to come into focus. The names are beginning to stick in my head and I can identify my favorite plants by sight. I pore over my field guides and garden books seeking more information and I can't wait for more opportunities to get out in it. I also keep thinking about ways to extend the season of being outside. Things to do in harmony with the natural rhythm around here. I love the slowness of measuring things out in years: this year, I learn this; next year, I'll try that. The time of my life in this place is stretched out before me with no greater goal than to love this place and to know it the best I am able.