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Winter Descends

I drove home from Kingston today through heavy rain, sleet, and – brace yourself – snow. I’m really not ready for this! Unlike last summer, this summer just wasn’t hot enough to have left me feeling ready for cold weather. Not that there is any choice in the matter.

I came back to a tidy and nice smelling house, well cleaned by my wonderful roommate while we were away. She really is a saint, not only putting up with my small in-house zoo and botanical garden, but she also seems to manage to overlook my lax housekeeping. Don’t get me wrong – when I have time to keep up my house, it is spotless and fastidiously organized. But between spending 3 hours a day training and exercising dogs, doing my research, now working several part-time jobs, and keeping up with my ‘field work’ (i.e. being a locavore), who has time for mopping floors? Besides, they will just get muddy again in a day or two with my crew. Especially this time of year. But it is nice to have a clean house, and I really should break out the mop more often.

I arrived home to the disheartening news that much of the flock I use to train was sold over the weekend. Furthermore, the rest are going shortly. This comes as no surprise, but I was really hoping that there would be sheep for me to train on at least until Christmas. With both dogs making such great progress, it breaks my heart to have to stop training indefinitely. Sheepherding has become a very big part of my life and I enjoy it immensely. If I don’t find somewhere I can train regularly, I may have to move.

I actually would love to move. I have been wanting to move for some time. For long enough now that instead of picking the web address “SouthwesternOntarioLocavore” I just selected “OntarioLocavore.” I knew even a year ago that the Southwestern would probably become obsolete in the life span of this blog.

As I see it, I have two options. I can either look for a job and move to wherever I get one, or I can move to the area I want to live in and make it work. I have done the former a number of times. In the past 15 years, I have lived in Vancouver, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Boston, Houston, Chicago, and now London. I have enjoyed being nomadic, but I’m more than ready to put down roots and build something permanent. My desire to explore the world has been replaced by a desire to get to know one little spot really, really well and to build relationships that will not only last, but be in close proximity for the long-term.

My heart is – and always has been – in Kingston.  It is my number one place to consider for relocation right now. I was born there, and spent every summer of my childhood there, and became an adult there while doing my undergraduate. Every time I go there, I feel that I am coming home, even though I’ve never officially lived there “for real.” I have family in the region, and friends who have no plans to move away.  It sure would be nice to live somewhere that people actually stay.  Plus, there’s tons of great stuff happening there in terms of local, sustainable food and environmental protection. Perhaps it’s because of the rock and clay soil, making the area unsuitable for factory farming, which has left it to small farmers. Or perhaps it’s because the region is affluent, and that tends to free people up for thinking about things beyond basic material needs. Whatever the reason, I feel like I am home there, something I’ve never felt anywhere else I’ve lived, even in the town I grew up in. If I live anywhere else, I am afraid it will always feel temporary, and I’m tired of temporary.

One concept that I keep coming across, or keep considering, is the notion of place. This is making a big splash in academic circles, but what I’ve read on the topic seems a little, um, antiseptic. I think people develop a very strong attachment to place, to the land. I don’t know why, but it seems part of our very nature. I have read oodles on different theories of ‘human nature’, put forth by political theorists throughout the ages, but I don’t know that any I’ve read get it right. There just so much that seems ‘primordial’ (at the risk of using a term that is denigrated in many circles), such a very, very real attachment to land that cannot be explained. I have a friend who, at the tender age of 17, felt drawn to Victoria, BC. She went there for a weekend and realized that’s where she belonged. Apparently she had been born in the wrong place. It took some time, but she eventually moved there and has been there ever since, finally home. I’ve visited her and love the area, but have never felt a connection. Why or why not? Who knows?

I used to be obsessed with understanding ‘why’? In many ways, I still am. Certainly in an academic sense, that is in digging through literature and putting pieces of the puzzle together in ever-more comprehensive ways. Enough so that my supervisor threw up her hands in frustration, wanting me to pick just one little piece and FOCUS! (we’ve agreed on that piece and hopefully I will indeed be able to do so). But I am also learning to accept that there is mystery in the world. There is much that we cannot explain, and perhaps may never be able to. Some things just are. And trying to pick them apart, to ‘scientifically’ understand them, is counter productive. This is a terribly liberating acceptance, one I am increasingly yielding to.

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