This Christmas I received a re-gifted copy of The New Laurel’s Kitchen from one of my many generous Aunts. She hinted that the book proclaimed a rather “interesting” philosophy of food. As I read the introduction the comments on the importance of place struck a chord that resonates with the purpose of this blog.
A place invites you to come well before your departure, and to linger on after your arrival. In a place, something hangs in the air-a life, a spirit. You are held there not merely by comfort, but by interest and expectation: important things go on here…
As you stay someplace over time, because you choose to be there, you become part of that place, and it becomes part of you. You start to take responsibility for it.
Gary Snyder has written about the importance of setting down deep roots wherever you live and forming a real relationship to the land itself. He urges us to “find the holy places” where we live – steep ourselves in its special stillness.
Perhaps, though, the real point is no so much to find the holy places as it is to make them. Do we not hallow places by our very commitment to them? When we turn our home into a place that nourishes and heals and contents, we are meeting directly all the hungers that a consumer society exacerbates but never satisfies. This is an enormously far reaching achievement, because that home then becomes a genuine counter-force to the corporate powers-that-be, asserting the priority of a very different kind of power.
At first we may feel restless, wanting the quick fix, the fastest route. We want to skip the pregnancy and head straight to the delivery room, as if the previous nine months were dispensable! But there are no shortcuts. If we want a home that is “not a station but a place,” we must be there.
The first all important step is to dig in where you are and “make a place.” When I suggested that we think of ourselves as pioneers I wasn’t being quaint. We are on a frontier, surrounded by wilderness, and the job at hand is to make a clearing – to clear a space and determine that what goes on within that circle will be a prototype of the world as you would like it to be. The thrilling thing is to see those small circles begin to touch upon another here and there, and overlap – sturdy outposts, ground for hope.