“Every creature on earth returns to home. It is ironic that we have made wildlife refuges for ibis, pelican, egret, wolf, crane, deer, mouse, moose, and bear, but not for ourselves in the places where we live day after day. We understand that the loss of habitat is the most disastrous event that can occur to a free creature. We fervently point out how other creatures’ natural territories have become surrounded by cities, ranches, highways, noise and other dissonance, as though we are not surrounded by the same, as though we are not affected also. We know that for creatures to live on, they must at least from time to time have a home place, a place where they feel both protected and free.”
~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves
A return to home. That’s what it felt like this past weekend during a flush of 73 degree weather in the scatters of Malmaison Wilderness Management Area (WMA) just between Grenada and Greenwood, Mississippi.
I anticipated the warm weather a week prior, watching the weather report and excitedly dashing into the premature flickers of spring sunlight while I could. I wanted sun on my skin. I had had enough…enough of even our mild winter in Mississippi.
I colluded with a few friends to embrace the beautiful weather fully. That’s how we ended up in these far reaches of some forested remnants of the Mississippi alluvial plain.
My artist friends Robin (of Robin Whitfield Studio) and Hart (of ArtPlace) know the area well, having spent many lazy afternoons on these waters, discovering secret lakes, sipping in delta sunsets, and basking in bird calls. I brought my friend (also named) Lindsey (of The Nature Conservancy, MS Chapter) to network and connect…commiserate in our efforts to re-story and re-invigorate the Mississippi imaginal mind.
Normally the stomping grounds of duck hunters, Malmaison WMA offered us a chance to experience feathered decadence without any bulls-eye pursuit. We only leaned into our own soul urgings to go out, connect with, and witness. And that fed us.
I knew the conversations would flow and they did…yellow-bellied sapsuckers and their migration pattern…wood ducks…the beaver’s role as a wetland keystone species…raising awareness about the plight of the gulf sturgeon…the need for a renewed forest and ecosystem ethic in this state…how to protect existing watersheds such as the Pearl River and the Big Black…the severe distaste for human-enacted clear-cutting of any kind…and so on…
Where one of us would taper off, another would pick up the thread. We were all speaking the same language…a language of the environments we were familiar with, and of places that we had allowed to mystify and mesmerize us…even hold a piece of our very own heart. We spoke of that which we wanted to see live on.
This blog post is simply a thank you… A thank you to that *something* that is re-emerging in the state of Mississippi…a comprehensive and cultural environmental ethic based on relationships and connections. The tender shoots of this awareness is steadily emerging from the harsh logging and farming practices of our not-so-distant past.
I sense…that as the land heals…as the waterways heal…we will find that our communities will heal, too.
And we will need this. We will always need this. A place to return home to.