A friend, Julene Bair, just posted a moving article about selling the family farm in Kansas.
Out in the Cold at High Country News http://www.hcn.org/issues/40.22/out-in-the-cold
Knowing she had no choice didn’t help. The fact that her mother and brother supported her decision didn’t help. Hang onto the land, was her father’s oft repeated advice–words that haunted her and continue to haunt her. She still feels like her roots were severed. Roots becomes a theme.
She talks about buffalo grass, a Kansas native with a root system five miles deep. She notes that only a fraction of any living thing meets the eye. We all have roots, a subterranean life that is deep, immense and often invisible, even to us.
I know what she means. A hundred years ago, there was a legendary “tie yourself down” stretch of railroad along Beaver Canyon, one of the places my great grandmother worked as a cook. The road was so rough, a crew was stationed there with the sole purpose of cleaning up the box cars that tipped over and smashed on the rocks below. “Tie yourself down,” meaning prepare for a rough ride, is a phrase I whisper, whenever I need to give myself courage. I did that long before I understood the term probably originated with my family’s railroad background.
Most of us have no idea how deep the stories go. Most of the time, we never pause long enough to question our family’s way of describing the world. “Tie yourself down” or “Hang onto the land,” we say and go on like that’s the only way.
Buffalo grass is popular in the suburbs these days. Because it needs little water (those deep roots) it has become part of the ornamental grasses landscaping movement. Wonder if we appreciate how deep and how native that choice is?