In the freshmen writing class I TA in, we are reading a book called Dwellings. Its writer, Linda Hogan, talks about nature and her connection to it in the most compelling ways. Reading just a few paragraphs about sweat lodge ceremonies and wolves and how all things, air, plants and animals and us are all connected my mind gets worked up to a point where I can’t think of anything else.
I walk outside instead of taking the catwalk. The cold and the rain are no longer a bad thing, but they are alive and refreshing. I want to run down the harbor and put my feet in the ocean. Hogan talks about people using their hands to feel connection to a lost wild earth by touching animals. I like to take my shoes off and let my feet sink into the muck or the salt marsh like a trees roots. Mud squishes between my toes and it buries my feet. I inhale the salt in the air and the ocean, the one part of earth that has not been fully explored and developed my man, welcomes me home.
Sometimes I make money off of the ocean that I love. I collect pieces of colored glass that wash up on her shores and use to make jewelry that I sell. The glass was trash, carelessly thrown into water by people who did not realize how they might be hurting the earth. But the ocean was stronger than them. The powerful waves crashing on rocks and sand removed the sharp edges so the class would not cut the fish that call the sea home, and eventually, it gives the glass back to the earth. I find it, collect it and make things with it. I like to think am I doing the sea a favor by collecting her recycled treasures and the profit I make off it is my reward for respecting her.
Despite my urge to run to the ocean I turn myself the other way. I go to the library. The smell of cleaning supplies and paper seems repulsive instead of comforting. It reminds me how much I hate the way my house smells after my mother cleans. Most other people I know, including my mother, love that smell. They say it smells clean and fresh, I say it smells toxic.
I came to the library because I have things I need to print out for my classes, but all I think about it the ocean, about trees, and how the concrete and brick around me feels like a prison. Just a few paragraphs from that book make me feel like a caged tiger. Perhaps I am lonely or longing for lost wildness that my society has drive to extinction. Today I will repress my want to be wild and take care of the more practical one. Once I have finished this rant and let my feeling out with these words, I will do what I came to the library to do. But in a few weeks, when classes are over, I will escape to my sanctuary of salt marsh on Monomoscoy Island and climb the rocky peaks in Acadia National Park. I have to only hold onto this artificial, yet necessary practical pretense of living for a few more weeks, then I will have a few days of bliss where I can give into all my impulses to connect with natural world.