(up)Setting Roots

I’ve been on the move a lot recently. My time at Kenai Fjords National Park just came to an end (coincidentally, on the first day of government shutdown), so it was time to head back to New York. But that move is just the latest in an emergent peripatetic pattern.

It started as a post-college adventure, moving from Vermont to the west coast. A half-year of farm work later, it was back to New York, then to Alaska. I’ve developed a habit of not living in one place for more than six months at a time.

What I’ve been doing is somewhere between traveling to places and living them. Six months is long enough to explore a place in depth—climb its mountains, follow its rivers, and turn up leaves and sticks in the woods to see what you can find underneath. Six months is long enough to watch the seasons roll through the land, but not long enough to see that whole story unfold. Six months is just long enough to call a place home, to feel that you belong, to begin to take root. Six months is enough to make it hurt when you pull those roots up.

As unpleasant as the little popping and tearing sounds that accompany every transplant are, there’s an upside. Any gardener can tell you that you never get all of the roots when you dig up a plant (ask them right after they try to get a dandelion out of the ground—those buggers never let go). So some small part of a person stays when they go. After six months in Seward, AK, those mountains and fjords, and the people I met there, are part of my home no matter where I find myself.

Late-September sunset over Mount Alice.

Photo: Max Odland

Continuing the pattern (and breaking it at the same time), I’m packing up for one more road trip. This time I’ll be working for a land trust in California… for a full year. Time enough to set more than a few new roots.

I’m on the road for the next several days. More to come when I get there!

2 responses to “(up)Setting Roots

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