by Joe Thomas
“You look at that river gently flowing by. You notice the leaves rustling with the wind. You hear the birds; you hear the tree frogs. In the distance you hear a cow. You feel the grass. The mud gives a little bit on the river bank. It’s quiet; it’s peaceful. And all of a sudden, it’s a gear shift inside you. And it’s like taking a deep breath and going, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot about this.'” – Al Gore
When I am fortunate enough to have time to sit quietly by a creek and reflect, I am more often than not drawn to the nature of flowing water. Toni Morrison wrote “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” In a sense, I feel like the water, constantly searching for a way to get back to where I was.
There are many ways to go home. For some, home is simply the place where they live. But for most people, home is not so much a place as an evocation of a certain emotion, some pastoral and primal peacefulness that causes one to find themselves sighing contentedly or smiling quietly for no particular reason. Often, it is a sound or smell or texture that reminds you that this is the place from which you came, and to which you can always return. For me, these sensations are the deepest connection to nature, the idea that I can return to the same place year after year, or after many years, and while some things have changed, there are some which are rooted in the fabric in the earth. It is a grounding feeling, both humbling and joyous, reminding us that we are at the same time minuscule and vital.