Every place had been displaced…
to make way for the passage of the crowd…
with their many eyes opened toward the objective
which they did not yet perceive in the far distance,
having never known where they were going,
having never known where they came from.
Avery Mann stopped to fuel up at the Quickie Mart on his way to the familial homestead in Southwest Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. He looked forward to a break. A break from the pressure of work, from burdening expectations, from the constant push to stay ahead of…of what? He wasn’t sure.
Avery flipped up the gas pump lever and was barraged with “Gas-station TV” blaring from the pump screen. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he thought. “Does our every minute need to be filled with someone’s idea of…entertainment?” Inside the Quickie Mart every type of convenient, tasty, sweet, or salty, or greasy, or carb-filled snack imaginable gaily lined the shelves begging to be consumed – calories as hollow and unfulfilling as the gibberish gushing from the pump screen.
But soon the hills, bluffs and valleys of the Driftless Area began to pull him in. As he wound his way down small country roads the weight of the uncertainty, of the drive to push ahead, of the need to impress, began to lift. The beauty and atmosphere of this national treasure, the Driftless Area, began to work its magic.
Thanksgiving – a time to pause, a time to consider the blessings bestowed instead of seeking that next hit of instant gratification either from the ever-present screen or on the shelves of the Quickie Mart. We fortunate ones who live in the Driftless have a better chance than most of holding tight the sense of place that Wendell Berry fears may be rapidly slipping away. Reflections of respect for place - the natural environment, culture, history, and one another, surround us.
Avery pulled into the driveway and embraced the warmth of family. “We’re so blessed to live in a place where folks cherish the land and each other. Contrary to Berry’s lament, we DO know where we’ve come from and with guidance and grace CAN know where we’re headed. May it be so for our children’s children because the Driftless Area and Earth itself are precious places. And after all, where else would we go? We’re here forever… Earthbound.”