At Home in New Hampshire > Home Inside and Out

There are places beyond my indoor world as familiar, intimate and essential to me as my house. I walk, or simply stand, beside the flowing water of a brook-corridor immured by alder and silky dogwood, thatched by red maple and white pine. I lodge myself in a narrow channel in a shrub swamp beneath a dense canopy of royal fern and alder. Closeted in the silence that is the voice of nature, in these realms well removed from any human roofing, I look around me, write at times, occasionally make drawings, mostly just be.

Such quarters—and these are the vanishing places—formed a life-defining, life-sustaining home away from home for me in boyhood. They are vitally necessary yet, and this necessity has compelled my moves in search of new retreats as the places of my heart and mind were taken from the landscape. In so many human lives, migration is a part of coming home.

The wild places of our ultimate home, the Earth, are lost not only outright to development, but also, ironically— more accurately, tragically—to conservation, as the unsustainably proliferating, exigent and self-serving human species, with its demand for access and utility of the entire planet, renders these not sanctuaries for what remains of the natural world, reserves for biodiversity, but human theme parks, playgrounds. The wildness in which Thoreau saw so correctly the preservation of the world, as critical for the human spirit as for nature, is daily being lost. It is nature that suffers from the recently coined “nature deficit disorder”; we must somehow move beyond conservation to preservation.

Home is place and all its extensions. We discover and create our homes, construct them about ourselves, as the snail in slow progression spirals its shell around its innermost life. But the homes we design for ourselves, with their intimately familiar and at the same time ultimately unknowable architecture of space and time, shape us in turn.