Wednesday, October 1, 2003

This week's Ecotone topic is Ancestral Place

I have a friend who was raised in the farmland of the St. Lawrence River valley on a farm near Cardinal, Ontario. He moved out to British Columbia for a couple of years in the early nineties, but he came back saying that he could make it out here. He said that from the time he was born he ate food that was grown in the soil of Ontario. It was as if his body had been constructed from the raw materials of that land, and when he moved out here, he resonated on a different frequency.

Homesickness for the ancestral lands is what that is all about.

This place, Bowen Island, is not my ancestral homeland. This is not the land I grew up on, and as we move into fall, I feel most acutely that sense of displacement. In fall in my ancestral land of Southern Ontario, the climate changes in particular ways, the snow starts to think about flying and the days are crisp and clear with a sky so blue that it seems as if nature has conjured up sheer light from the natural pigment of air. Here, we get to clear days, but we start in fog and soon enough, we'll be drenched in rain as the Pacific Ocean soaks us for the winter.

I think we resonate with parts of the land that live in our genes. I felt at home the moment I arrived in Saskatchewan for the first time, having never been there before. My great grandparents farmed that part of the world and as a result gave me a piece of that place for my own. Other relatives lived in Toronto, Port Perry, Grey-Bruce and a myriad of other Ontario towns and villages, some for thousands of years, some as recent immigrants.

My ancestral place is not here. As much as I love it here, the ancestral place draws me home at this time of year.

Urge For Going:

by Joni Mitchell

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town

It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down

When the sun turns traitor cold and all the trees are shivering in a naked row

I get the urge for going

But I never seem to go

I get the urge for going

When the meadow grass is turning brown

Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime

He had summer-colored skin

And not another girl in town

My darling's heart could win

But when the leaves fell on the ground

Bully winds came around, pushed them face down in the snow

He got the urge for going

And I had to let him go

He got the urge for going

When the meadow grass was turning brown

Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout

And all that stays is dying and all that lives is camping out

See the geese in chevron flight flapping and racing on before the snow

They got the urge for going

And they got the wings so they can go

They get the urge for going

When the meadow grass is turning brown

Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

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