A Love Song to the Land

White bison grazing in a pasture with two horses, with the Teton mountain range in the background

The part of our Earth that Earthfire calls home spoke to Jean and myself as soon as we saw it. There was something about it, hard to express… It felt like a strength of being. Was it the unusually vivid awareness of the bedrock upon which we stood, the solid ground beneath our feet? Or perhaps energy welling up from the center of our Earth to its surface, up through the bottoms of our soles, entering and enlivening our own energy systems? Over time, we came to feel the presence of the “stone people”—as the Native Americans call them—scattered about the land, each with their own story to tell of where they came from, how they arrived here, what forces shaped them before they came to lie where they are, their perspective of time.

To the east rise the magnificent young mountains of the Grand Teton range, reaching far into the sky, catching the clouds which give us healing rains. Sunlight outlines the peaks with the rays of the dawn—turns them warm gold in the late afternoon, then a glowing rose in the evening. Are they enjoying the endless play of light that shows off their beauty? The wide open sky presents an ever-changing kaleidoscope of shapes, colors, moods. As I write this, the skies rumble and crackle. Massive dark thunder clouds move through, dropping sheets of life-giving water. Then suddenly, the skies are clear and the fields of gray sagebrush turn a lovely delicate blue. I once knew a man who lay on his back, watched the sky, and fell in love. He spent the rest of his life helping people see its beauty, its endless shades of color, the drift of the clouds. It is good to fall in love with something and share it.

The winds are also a presence here. They stir the grasses and the trees ever so softly. Sometimes, they lash the trees with gale force and they respond in a wild, ecstatic dance. The trees can’t move on their own, but the winds can do it for them. And the birds can visit them and twitter and nest and bring forth young among their branches. Soaking in the warm midday sun, the trees seem to radiate. We know that complex chemical reactions are taking place, but beyond that, perhaps they enjoy the light and warmth from the sun in their own way.

The soil, made up of finely ground stones and the leaves of plants that once soaked up the sun, is a miracle of intricate life whose secrets we have only begun to understand. It is full of tiny microbes living their lives, supporting more life. The roots of the trees in the forest are connected by a vast, unseen, underground network of fungi. Trees communicate with each other from one end of the forest to the other through these living conduits, sharing information and nutrition. And as a crowning glory, observed wildlife artist Bruno Liljefors, the animals arise as the ultimate expression of the land.

We all need encouragement in these times to make space for ourselves and attend to the more eternal values beyond the busyness we are all constantly surrounded by. Somewhere near each of us is vibrant land, even if it is a park or a patch of grass with a tree, because Life itself is vibrant. May this article encourage you to visit it and say hello.

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