Bushcraft (a term for wilderness survival skills)

Iowa is a strange country. Beautiful and strange. The hills roll like bunched quilts stitching corn rows. Life is the same there today as it was yesterday. Tractors hum up and down main street in Cascade – a small small town with a few lights, a massive church, Subway, grocery store, token burger joint attempting to wrangle the outside world with free wi-fi. Somehow it seemed ill-fitted – there are some things, some people that don’t belong to a life of corn.
A group of teenagers huddled together at the dining bar. What a bunch of misfits they were: 3 boys flirting with the young, untouched face of the girl taking orders. In such circumstances, you’d befriend a mole if it meant Friday night plans. One was a skinny farm boy wearing a white undershirt, carharts and a sweat-stained hat, rimmed brown. Like an old cast it was covered in handwritten notes. Another boy displayed a button on his trendy printed backpack that said “I’m picturing you naked” and wore neon Nike sneakers. 15 years old – they’d only talk about girls anyway. That commonality was enough.
There wasn’t a lot to do in Cascade, IA. Trying to undo button after button, day after day, I doubt if those boys were getting anywhere. Baseball, basketball, football seemed the only ways out.
I can’t imagine how hard it would be being born into such a farming clan. Son after son married to the land. When asked if he was going to grow up to be a farmer, I overheard a 5-year-old answer “Yes.” His sureness alarmed me. How could you ever know such a thing? But maybe some people just do and take their life’s duties like a casting call. This is your part. Played forever.
I noticed a lot of thumbprinted clouds pacing back and forth across the sky. It made me think of all the places I’ve tried to call home. How in each place, I’ve tried to create an identity. Home, I know, can only be found in ourselves. Buildings, friendships, furniture can always be lost. My body is my guard, but it is also a thief. I build quickly, I steal and then I leave.
Who am I here? Who will I be there? Who was I then?
I’m beginning to see how organic we all are, never stagnant, always sprouting vines where they shouldn’t grown. At some point, tiring from all the trimming and maintenance, we become overgrown: a memory sticking our here, a mistake corkscrewing there. Only then, when our previously manicured hedges lose all structure, do we become, unapologetically, our true selves.

I’m leaving the weed whacker behind.

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