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Category: Spirits of the Land

 

🌿 Spirits of the Land

An exploration of the Land and its inhabitants from the animist perspective of a French artist and expatriate living in the Pacific Northwest (USA).

I visited San Francisco!

I visited San Francisco!

And it was great as you’d suspect 🙂 A bit tiring though, we didn’t have much time to rest between all the different places we visited. We played it like real tourists: we took a ferry to cruise the bay under a Glorious Sun, visited different parts of the City like Chinatown and Le Castro and went to the top of Coit tower to have an overview of everything around us, we rode bikes through the Golden Gate bridge all the way to Sausalito, and we even booked a Night Tour to go and visit Alcatraz Island, where we got to hear the daunting sound of an entire row of prison cell doors all closing at the same time.

But the real treat for me was being able to see and feel how different Nature was compared to the part of the Pacific Northwest that I live in. The Flora I encountered in San Francisco was lovely: there were giant cacti and succulents almost everywhere we went (I’m so jealous right now!), I saw lots and lots of plants that I couldn’t even start to identify, and the sight of Californian Poppies always caught my eyes with delight.

I really enjoyed it, especially when hiking in Glen Canyon Park after climbing on the top of Twin Peaks (where it was so windy I thought I’d be swept away like a Dancing Leaf). And don’t get me started on the Golden Gate Park and its harmonious and relaxing Japanese Tea Garden. Or the Pacific Ocean and the adorable crew of porpoises we managed to see, gently riding the waves near the shore (picture me screaming: “I just saw a black fin!” and making a happy dance on the beach).

All right, apart from the fact that I am now totally rambling about my last vacations, where am I going with this? Well, you know the feeling, right? When you finally arrive to your little Piece of Land after a relatively long trip, you start to recognize the trees and the roads and the shape of the horizon behind. Then in one breath, you suddenly have this realization, that you are home.

That’s exactly how I felt coming back from my Californian trip and seeing the mountains get closer and closer. And it caught me by surprise. I genuinely didn’t expect this, neither did I expect how strong the feeling was.

It’s been almost a year since I arrived here, a foreign country. And since I’m living on a temporary visa, I wasn’t really in a mindset of actually considering this part of the world my home. I mean, since the first day I feel like I belong here (somehow, don’t ask me why) but my rational mind kept reminding me that no, this is not your country, your actual home is somewhere else – whatever that means since I don’t have one in France anymore.

So which one is right? I think for once I’m gonna go with my gut feeling, and not ignoring it especially when it is that strong. This last year has been the best and the worst at the same time. It has been confusing, and challenging, bur it also made me grow. And build new roots.

My trip to San Francisco was fantastic, but coming home that day was even better, like hearing a voice saying: “It’s ok, you know. This is the right place for you to be, and whatever happens, you’re gonna be ok here. ” And this little spark of peacefulness was comforting in a way that I didn’t anticipate. I’m grateful I got to experience this.

A Sense of Place

A Sense of Place

I believe that ultimately […] we should take time to explore our local landscape and locate our personal places of power. That we should try to find out how to start a conversation with them.

Barry Patterson – The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci

I’m currently rereading this book for the third time and, as usual, I couldn’t agree more. This particular sentence always hit me and, oddly enough, it illustrates perfectly what I’ve been up to these past months – at least when I wasn’t sitting at my desk, imagining, drawing and creating some of the good stuff I’ve been accumulating in my Atelier.

In fact, and more than ever before, these two activities have been connected at a very deep and intimate level. I really wanted to reopen the shop sooner, but if I was to work on a new version of it, first I had to go out and walk, explore the woods around, and listen to what the Song of the Wind had to say. It’s always been a great part of my spiritual path as much as the best fuel I know for my creative space. It’s all about getting to know my environment, getting to know the land I live on and its various inhabitants. Getting a sense of place, knowing where and, most importantly, how I belong.

So let me tell you a little about this awesome place I’ve landed on 🙂

If you don’t already know it, I now live in Issaquah, WA with my beloved expat’ tribe, aka my husband and Mr. Pop’cat. And I must say I’m pretty lucky we have found this place in particular. From our home when the sky is clear, you get to see the magnificent Olympic Mountains carving the horizon beyond Seattle. Have a break on the patio outside, look North, and here’s the snowy silhouette of Mount Baker. Finally and much closer, Cougar, Squak and Tiger Mountain are framing the city below, forming what’s known for good reasons as the Issaquah Alps. Those three are my favorites, and my eyes can not help being drawn on their rounded curves lined with evergreens.

I also have to talk about another presence here, one that unfortunately I can’t see directly from my home, but that is nevertheless quite important. Tahoma, or Mount Rainier if you like, a Giant of Fire and Ice who watches over the whole region. The first that captured my attention from the plane when I arrived, giving me this deep sense of awe, a feeling of wonder and reverence that I couldn’t possibly forget. The first that I got to greet in person a couple of weeks after, while hiking in good company on its snowy slopes and trails.

I’ll be honest with you: I’m absolutely in love with this region. I’ve had this feeling since the first day we arrived, that I am home here, that I belong and I’m welcome. Everything seems amplified here, thus the adaptation has been quite hard in some ways. It has required to break some shell, to expose a soft and fragile skin sometimes. Nevertheless, I found a real Sense of Place here, and I’m excited to be able to continue exploring my local landscape in the weeks and months to come, especially now that it is waking up from wintertime. I can’t wait to deepen my relationship with it. I’ve found a Place of Power here, that allowed me to heal, to grieve, to rest, and to start dreaming again.

What’s your relationship with the land you live in? Have you already found your place of personal power there?