home and away

Word of the day:

philopatric, noun. (Of an animal or species) tending to return to or remain near a particular site or area. (thanks, Oxford Dictionaries)

Something brings me circling around arid mountains and high valleys, year after year. I settle in desolate places, for seemingly unclear reasons.

Landscape becomes part of us, and we seek familiar settings. In elementary school geography classes, this was tied to occupation (people who fished in Europe settled in coastal American towns, miners in mining towns, etc.). I think it runs deeper than that — there is a sense of comfort, familiarity, home, in an socio-ecological system not so far removed from your own. I belong in places with thin, dry air, with sun that will burn you if you aren’t vigilant, with wind-borne dust, cold summer nights, and excessively cold winters. I belong in towns that were once important, that try desperately to cling to their history to the point of shunning the future. I belong with people who work with their hands, who utilize nature, who might be seen as villains for it but may actually be the most honest humans you’ll meet.

The reasons for my presence here aren’t so unclear.

It’s hard to fit in, though. Maybe because it’s not the exact place I continually return to (as philopatry would dictate), but approximations. All of my locales have been approximations, though — I have roots, but I have deep roots nowhere. Perhaps I should find that liberating.


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