Walking Into Love - Tweit
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Sunday, 10 May 2009 15:59
mollysusan

Adapted from "Walking Nature Home, A Life's Journey," published by University of Texas Press, 2009.

By Susan J. Tweit

I'm a step-mother: I married my daughter when she was four. I never imagined having kids, but I ended up raising my husband Richard's daughter, Molly.

It wasn't easy. Think of the term "blended family," and then envision what happens when you turn the blender on. It's not a pretty picture.

In the first year of our household, it often seemed like her father and Molly were allied against me. Sometimes I felt like Molly hated me; other times I was afraid I hated her.

Walks were our best time. Nearly every day, Molly and I walked out our front door, headed somewhere on foot. We walked to the nearby park with its swings and slides; we walked downtown to the library and the food co-op; we walked to the university campus to meet her dad after classes.

Sometimes we skipped hand in hand; sometimes we walked fast to stay warm; sometimes we dawdled and counted sidewalk slabs.

We were unwittingly following in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau. In his essay, "Walking," Thoreau extols the delights of sauntering, which, he points out, "has nothing akin to taking exercise" but is in itself "the enterprise and adventure of the day."

The ambles Molly and I took, although not completely without itinerary, honored the spirit of sauntering: our aim was simply to get outside and explore the world around us.

We walked to experience the journey, not just to reach the destination. If arriving at a particular place by a particular time had been our only objective, we would have used the car.

Traveling on foot, we traced ant trails, sniffed ground-hugging violet blossoms, picked up autumn leaves, craned our necks to decipher the shapes of passing clouds; we watched crows jockeying for position in nighttime roost trees, followed raccoon and snake tracks, and spotted fireflies signaling in blips of green and yellow light.

Walking gave us a territory of our own, a place we could start fresh, away from the disputes that regularly rocked our household. Rambling with no agenda forced Molly and me to leave our baggage at home.

Walking provided time together, and it got us outside to learn the landscape where we lived. We walked to explore, to lose ourselves and find each other in the world outside our skin boundaries.

And we grew a relationship. Over the years, a funny thing happened: when Molly and I strolled arm in arm, people commented on our "resemblance."

Molly, with her father's graceful height, high cheekbones, and dark hair would look down at me, half a head shorter and skinny with red-blond hair and freckles, and giggle uncontrollably. Clearly, they were seeing something not described by physical characteristics, something we couldn't see.

I finally realized that when people say Molly and I resemble each other, they're seeing beyond the surface to a kinship that originates with the love we grew to share.

And I bless those regular rambles: We walked our way into that enduring affection, step by step.

Copyright 2009 Susan J. Tweit

Isis, Susan, Molly

Background:

Susan J. Tweit is the author of twelve books that explore the interrelationships that form what Aldo Leopold called the "community of the land." Her work has appeared widely in magazines and newspapers from Audubon and Popular Mechanics to High Country News and the Los Angeles Times - and she has been on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Network.

Trained as a field ecologist, she has found studying the interrelationships between the species that form the community of the land will always be a passion. But over the years while mapping grizzly bear habitat, wildfire patterns and sagebrush communities, she came to realize she loved telling the stories behind the data more than collecting those data.

She's a Quaker, a step-mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mentor and mentee, and a friend. She belongs to an informal network of writers and artists who speak for the land. A passionate gardener, she grows her own vegetables, fruits and herbs, and also enjoys the challenge of native plant restoration and "wildscape" design.

 

Contact Information:

Website:  http://susanjtweit.com

Blog:  http://susanjtweit.typepad.com/walkingnaturehome

 

_________

 

"Stories nurture our connection to place and to each other. They show us where we have been and where we can go. They remind us of how to be human, how to live alongside the other lives that animate this planet. ... When we lose stories, our understanding of the world is less rich, less true."

--Susan J. Tweit, Walking Nature Home: A Life's Journey, just out from Univ. of Texas Press

 

 


Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 11:36
 
 
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