Two weeks ago we headed to Nashville, TN. The plan was to travel across the state in search of growing areas for Gemmo trees, shrubs and vines. What I was looking for has transformed these past days and I have come to realize my lens is now more defined. Departing Texas on this journey my goal was to find suitable climates, soil and biodiversity. That list of requirements soon expanded.
Climate and soil are important but lose their value without a cultural respect for the land. How I define this continues to evolve, but on a basic level it is about working with rather than against the needs of the land. While soil can be amended, treating land as an inexhaustible resource can not. Certainly not inherent to Tennessee, we all live with great inconsistencies that play out in both small and large communities.
But with this now as my focus, I saw time and again examples of what appeared as commitment to restoration or preservation of the land accompanied with broad strokes of disregard.
A fine example was in Knoxville, a city that prides itself on its incredibly well planned and marketed urban wilderness that then allowed developers to line the banks of its rivers with golf courses that consistently drain pesticides into the flowing waters.
So after ten days of my heart growing heavier by the moment, I woke inspired. Do you remember the choose your own adventure books? The interactive series from the 80’s where YOU decide the outcome of the story? I suddenly saw an alternative ending. Three days before this story in my search for Gemmo tree series was about to end I suggested a plot twist. And because I have a husband who also follows his heart, we packed up and headed further east to North Carolina.
Now to be fair North Carolina has it’s own challenges with negotiating urban growth and protecting the land. But in spite of this I picked up an entirely different energy. So we have spent the last few days inventorying trees and learning what we could about the culture of several tiny mountain communities north of Asheville. With only a short spance of time I can’t quite put words to what feels dramatically different, but my heart tells me its right and so far in my 62 years its always spot on.
And so today I bid farewell to North Carolina for now but have committed to return for a longer stretch very soon. My journey continues as I follow my heart back to mid-coast Maine.
Stay tuned for more tree search updates.