I left Arkansas as a newly emancipated adult struck by wanderlust, in hot pursuit of big dreams that could only be found in big cities, and having appreciated little of the natural beauty and wonder of “The Natural State.” An allergic, asthmatic child plagued by mosquitoes and prone to crying over any creature that met the maker at the hands of men like my dad and granddad, or simply as a natural part of the food chain, I was also in need of psychological treatment for what my mother called a “problem with spiders.” (This observation coming after my swift evacuation from a moving car due to a surprising aerial attack by one of those ugly flesh colored arachnimammals, the worrisome part of the incident being that I was the one driving the car, my mother a stupefied passenger). To be clear, I was not a nature person-- or so I believed.
What a surprise then to learn my deepest desires and expression were to be found in the rural bug infested environs of my new lakeside home, where nature reawakened a yearning for the simplest of moments, rekindling a wonder lost in childhood when Laura Ingalls Wilder was the inner frontier girl I secretly cultivated, where the enchantment of “The Wild Woods” calls forth a spirit of adventure I hadn’t realized I longed for, where Nature and her elements conspire to test previously untapped reserves, awakening instincts and honing a spirit of resiliency, of self-reliance. Nature is a sure antidote to loneliness if you find the courage to open yourself to its subtle and diverse company, where life and death are in constant exchange and always on display, where seemingly fair or not, things are said to take their natural course- nature answers to no one.
It is often said all roads lead to home and then there’s the other about how home is where the heart is... I have come to believe home is not a place nor destination, but a calling forth of our true nature. Home is something within, found in the experiencing of our authentic selves. As an adoptee whose origins were once hidden, I have traveled many paths in search of my self, a self which has been at the mercy of a need to please, to fit it, to be validated. Nature, the great equalizer, has not only rooted me in something greater than my disrupted biological seedbed, its primitive looking glass has shown me my true self, a self neither special nor shunned, simply a soul on a journey, a voyager in search of... a poet in the woods.
- Christi Shannon Kline