Friday, September 20, 2013

Pondering Deep Roots

A passage from the remarkable book, The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti. Paterniti is responding to a transcendent moment in Spain, speaking of the life of the cheese maker he's been following. He reflects on the ancient life on the Spanish meseta where the cheese maker has always lived:

Divinity, Not Machines
I craved divinity. I was thinking about how Ambrosio [the cheese maker] had said he spoke to animals, as if they were close friends, confiding in them. ... I wanted to live in a realm where I could talk to animals, where all the generations of my family had once resided, where I might take daily strength in them, and where I'd live antlered by meaning and mysticism.
For me that resonated with my growing up in the West Branch Valley of north central Pennsylvania. Where Pine Creek joined the Susquehanna River I was rooted and grounded. A few years ago I started reflecting on that childhood homeland. That has been the early stirrings of writing that I hope to spend significant time working on when I move toward retirement in December. Paterniti's description spoke to me of my own roots in that land in Pennsylvania.

Creek at Ravensburg State ParkIt is what pulled me there over five years ago to ride the Pine Creek Rail Trail for my 60 miles for 60 years 60th birthday ride. It's what moves and inspires me when I look at that picture above this post on the banner of this blog. It is what stirs me when I think of the Bald Eagle Mountain on the southern boundary of the Valley or the Depression Era park I always called The Rocks. It may even be what so smoothly directed me to a church denomination that knew that area while still inhabited by the natives who called the Creek Tiadaghton.

It is the pull of water and trees;
Green hills and
Bald Eagles.

It is the mountains known as
But in the end were, for me,
Too limiting.
Lower Pine Creek PA
Yet they remain to define the
deepest places of my soul.

My soul, still,
decades after becoming a Midwesterner,
is solidly growing from the
rich geology, geography, river soil and
grandeur of that Valley.

Time will tell if I can tell that story. It is one of the dreams of what will become my Third Career starting in 2014. It will not be retirement; it will be a time of digging into that soil, pruning branches, examining the roots- and branches- that are fed by the memory of those mountains and waters.

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