By Jaime Jovanovich Walker, Community Outreach Coordinator
February marks the month of love and naturally we’re celebrating with our love of the land. I want to begin by sharing a passage from environmental philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore’s The Pine Island Paradox, which perfectly encapsulates what it means to truly love a landscape or place:
“I stretched my back and started two lists. What does it mean to love a person? What does it mean to love a place? Before long, I discovered I had made two copies of the same list. To love – a person and a place –means at least this:
One. To want to be near it, physically.
Number two. To want to know everything about it –its story, its moods, what it looks like by moonlight.
Number three. To rejoice in the fact of it.
Number four. To fear its loss, and grieve for its injuries.
Five. To protect it – fiercely, mindlessly, futilely, and maybe tragically, but to be helpless to do otherwise.
Six. To be transformed in its presence – lifted, lighter on your feet, transparent, open to everything beautiful and new.
Number seven. To want to be joined with it, taken in by it, lost in it.
Number eight. To want to the best for it.
Number nine. Desperately.
Love is an anchor line, a rope on pulley, a taut fly line, a spruce root, a route on a map, a father teaching his daughter to tie a bowline knot, eelgrass bent to the tide, and all of these – a complicated, changing web of relationships, taken together. It’s not a choice, or a dream, or a romantic novel. It’s a fact: an empirical fact about our biological existence.”
Why do you love the Palouse? When you think of the special place we call home, what makes your heart sing? What lingers with you, no matter how farm you may roam?
These are my favorite questions to ask when I get to know our supporters. Each person answers with something wonderfully new and different, and that’s a true testament to how unique and special our corner of the world really is. Most recently, I asked our board members to share with me their love stories of the Palouse, and to no surprise, they gave some beautifully different and wonderful answers:
“The Palouse is the only place in the country, make that in the world (I’ve lived on 3 continents) that I have ever returned to by choice. What is it about the Palouse that so attracts me? The closeness to working landscapes and natural ecosystems, the weekly change in color, form and character of the lands around us, and living amongst other people who love their land. As a photographer I love traveling around the Palouse seeing the variations of light and landscape at every turn of the dusty road and knowing that every change in the weather brings with it new opportunities to capture a unique part of the American landscape.”
“I love the diverse landscape of the Palouse region. We have it all: fertile rolling hills planted to agricultural crops, Palouse prairie remnants with native grasses and forbs, forested mountains and buttes, and four distinct seasons that provide us with ample moisture to sustain the plants and the abundance of wildlife living here.”
“Autumn is definitely my favorite season of the year on the Palouse. From overflowing flower pots to beautiful bushes and trees with their changing colors, it is truly a feast for the eyes. I am grateful each morning as I walk in my neighborhood that I live in such a beautiful place!”
“I am infatuated with the wild flowers of the Palouse and surrounding mountains. It begins with a few shoots with miniscule flowers. Those flowers quickly take over the forest floor. As the summer nears orchids bloom and camas fills secluded fields. Summer dries out many of the flowers but they are replaced with syringa, paintbrush and others. Watching this progression each year is one of my greatest pleasures.”