In this issue of Fieldbook, Glenn Lamb returns with a reflection on place.
By Glenn Lamb
I grew up a skinny kid running on the not-yet-paved roads of a new subdivision, small iron smudge pots burning single flames of caution along the rough edges of the road. I grew up finding snakes in the soggy grass mats that led to the wooded hillside that was later cleared for yet another subdivision. I grew up planting and digging up carrots in a side–yard garden and playing baseball in the backyard on the day the astronauts walked on the moon.
I grew up looking at the moon while dodging smoke from campfires. I grew up building fires in a fireplace whose mantel was adorned with giant semicircular fungi we had gathered in our walks in the woods. I grew up walking in the woods with my grandfather, who painted rectangular blazes along the trails he had built. I grew up walking on trails because that was what you did on Sunday afternoons. I grew up spending Easter Sundays at the wildlife refuge where thousands of ducks and geese darkened the sky above us.
I grew up the day the sky darkened and, in the same instant, lightning flashed and thunder roared, and I lay flat in the grass as the rain pelted down. I grew up the day, years later, it was raining hard as I drove past the curb where a homeless man sat, surrendering. I grew up the day I surrendered to the truth that nature is glorious and brutal and healing and unfair.
I grew up to embrace the notion that conservation—especially conservation—should concern itself with ensuring that all life mutually thrives, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal and all people no matter their background.
Some people have origin stories that plant them on this continent. Some people migrated here thousands or hundreds of years ago or just last week. We are all intertwined through the gifts of this place: the air, the water, the land. I want to be in a place where we stop and listen to each other’s stories, where we recognize these amazing gifts and we give back more than we were given.
I grow every day learning how to be part of such a world. Thank you for helping to show me the way.