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September 18, 2020

from Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology, by Chila Woychik

Outside our artificial constructs—house, vehicle, shops, and schools—the real cosmos teems. We pass it or ignore it day after day, and then life ends without us ever having shimmered in the moonlight or cajoled along a rocky ridge bereft of civilization, without our letting the cry of the coyote raise goosebumps on our evening-chilled flesh.

We cart in pinecones to decorate our fall tables, embellish our cabinets with turban squash or yellow gourds. Organize perfect rows of viburnum or bottlebrush buckeye in a landscape stripped and homogenized to look like every other landscape for city blocks. Then we wonder why our eyes weary and our spirits sigh at the sameness. Why “getting away” often entails a trip to an uncultivated, disorganized setting; for rather than chaotic, nature is merely free, as we so often wish to be. Structure helps us achieve; random helps us breathe.

—Chila Woychik, Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology