Footsteps and Past Selves
“Walking teaches patience. It works as an antidote against fear. It erodes cynicism about the violence of fellow Homo sapiens. In its capacity to sustain hope, it makes you a baby again.” —Paul Salopek, from “Cracked World,” Out of Eden Walk
Quick note on Threadable: Thank you to everyone who has signed up for the Land Ownership reading circle! And, very seriously, thank you for your patience with the link confusion (see previous post). Please email me if you’re still having trouble. Once you’re on Threadable, there are also other great reading circles to join, like “Water Politics and the World” and “Against Oppression: Black Antifascism(s).”
Our first reading is Chapter 1 of Andro Linklater’s Owning the Earth, which is uploaded on the app and ready for reading and commenting. Next week I will come up with a discussion forum format about the text on this newsletter. From here on out, I’ll put a “Threadable” subhead on any posts related to that project so you don’t have to read about it if you don’t want to!
Last week I stayed at a Forest Service cabin within a couple hours’ drive of my house. It’s one of my favorite places to be because there’s no internet or even electricity (gas light and stove) and rarely any other people nearby; but it does have the deep nighttime darkness that provides a dazzling starscape once the moon has set.
I sorted through a huge pile of research, read books, sat by the creek for long periods, and got to explore parts of my mind and self I hadn’t spent much time with in a while.
Audio respite: a little over a minute and a half of this babbling creek.
I was sweeping the floor just before leaving the place when I noticed how deeply worn down the sill of the door was. Many of these cabins are old homestead places, but this one was built—if I remember right—by the Forest Service itself for fire crews working in the area. In the nearby campground the evening before, I’d talked with a man who told me that when he was a child the cabin was in active use all the time, people cooking indoors and tents filling the yard outside.
I couldn’t help but think of all the shoes being scraped of dirt that had worn down the wood under the door. A long, clean curve dipped down from the edges, rubbed smooth like stone steps hundreds of years old whose edges have seen lives beyond count.
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