Those of you who have gotten to know me this summer have hopefully figured out by now that I don’t stay in one spot for very long. Unfortunately this means that I am constantly leaving people I have grown to care about behind. But it also means that I get to meet awesome people around the world. This summer in the Northwest has been amazing. I’ve learned a lot about the land, the people, and myself. I want to thank you all for a truly inspirational summer.
Early in the season I got an email from one of my friends on the east coast. She asked me what was different about the west. I listed off a few of the obvious ones; the serious lack of Dunkin Donuts shops and ice cream stands, the overwhelming presence of espresso stands, the difficulty in recycling, the lack of humidity, bugs, and hardwood trees, the numerous quantity of old Volkswagen buses, etc. But there was one difference that I didn’t notice right away. In general, the people of North Idaho and Western Montana are much more ‘aware’ of the land that they live on then the people of New York and New England.
Now I’m not trying to dis the folks back in my home state, this is a generalization, but there is a stronger tie out here between the people and the land. So often the conversation here revolves around things like the amount of rainfall, the snowpack depth, the blooming time of certain trees and flowers, the presence of bees, the spread of timber diseases, and the sightings of bear, moose, and elk. Now this type of conversation is something I’m used to hearing on my college campus among those folks studying the natural sciences, or from my colleagues in the forestry field, but I’m not used to the general public incorporating it in their everyday conversation.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t lose that tie. Take it from an east coast girl, the special thing about the west isn’t so much that there is a lot of land, it’s that the people know and care about it. I believe Aldo Leopold called it a ‘land ethic.’
But enough preaching to the choir. The primary reason I’m writing this blog is to tell you folks that I’m packing up my pickup and driving east on September 18th. Now I’m not going all the way back to New York, just 12 hours east to the Black Hills of South Dakota. So if any of you get that traveling itch and feel like seeing some bison roaming below Mount Rushmore, give me a shout. I’m just continuing the journey, and this is the next stop. Thanks again for an amazing summer.
“A journey is best measured in Friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill