William and Me under the Beech Tree
William and I both grew up in homes surrounded by forest. We are well acquainted with the darkness that descends come nightfall. We are familiar with nightly noises~ owls, foxes, coyotes. William even spent his childhood as a boy scout, and the concept of sleeping outside in the middle of the woods is certainly not foreign to him.
The first night William and I camped on our property in the Land of the Laurels brought our predator and prey instincts to a very different level.
We were the intruders. Just the two of us. Him. And me. And our four feet, two voices, and very presence, was of much curiosity to the land we occupied for the night.
We decided to place our tent directly under the giant American Beech tree. Its wide, sun hungry branches provided a decent cover. Plus, it is just a beautiful tree. But the ants…the ants were very interested in us and our tent. And it didn’t matter whether we put our tent under the Beech tree, or under the Chestnut Oak…the ants were everywhere. I’ve decided that our property may very well be just one giant ant hill.
With only two real neighbors, and each being about a half mile away, the darkness that enveloped us as night fell was all encompassing. Until our eyes adjusted. And the moon came out. I don’t even recall it being a full moon…but its brightness in comparison to all the dark was like a giant fluorescent light bulb. It at first was disconcerting when, at 2 am, I could still see trees about 50 meters away. After some time, it was a cooling comfort as it illuminated and made shapes of the Beech tree’s leaves above our tent.
As William and I lay in our tent, looking up at the branches of the Beech, our senses felt like they were on overload. Many a critter that night made their rounds around the area we preoccupied. Sniffing. Shuffling. Probably pooping. A majority of them sounded small. But some sounded much more than small. We just lay there. Listening. Sleep did not come easily. Part of it was survival instinct~ in case one of the critters decided to get too curious about our tent. Another part of it was due to a heavy burden that fell. We had invaded their space. We bought the land. But the land wasn’t really ours. We were laying in their feeding grounds…their nesting grounds…their breeding grounds…their ground.
I don’t really want to build our home in the middle of the woods. I don’t want to intrude more than humanity already has. We feel as if we just have a right to everything. That the earth is here for our taking, rather than for our cohabitation. But I also can’t imagine living anywhere else. Raising our children anywhere else. You don’t really appreciate nature until you live with it. With it.
Not ‘in.’ Not ‘over top of.’
When we build our home it will be a home of cohabitation. We will be sharing the same habitat as the ants…the Barred Owls, the racoons, the deer, the salamanders, the coyotes, and the bears.
To build the home with as little disturbance to their grounds as possible is the goal. To live in the home with them on now our ground…to share feeding grounds, nesting grounds, breeding grounds… to cohabitate, is what needs to happen. It is what must happen. It is what is going to happen.
The Seed will be the beginning of our family. And it will be the continuation of what our parents already started: raising children with a sense of awe, respect, and mutuality with the earth they were born of.
Just some thoughts. As always, thank you for reading!
© 2020 Sustaining Tree
© 2020 Sustaining Tree