Posted by: Banta | April 2, 2013

Walking the Land

Long before we broke ground on the mountain house, Bruce and I walked the land over and over again. Some days we bushwhacked our way through one dense thicket after another. Other days, we just sat on the earth and waited for a sign. We tried to listen to the mountain, past the chatter of chickadees and tree frogs, past the howling January winds and the roar of the spring after a hard rain. We wanted her to tell us, show us where to nestle the house. Even more than that, we wanted her permission to make a homestead on her breathtaking ridge. These few wild acres only belonged to us by virtue of a sales contract and a deed filed with Buncombe County. The paperwork may have conferred our legal right to build here, but what we craved, what we listened for, was the voice of the mountain herself. Would she give us the nod, take us in as co-creators of something that so compromised her very wildness?

Maybe it sounds crazy, but we talked to the mountain about these things. Out loud. We assured her that we would tame only what we needed for the house and garden, that we would not poison her water or her soil, that we would protect her terrain as much as we could, and we would never forget that she was here first.

When the day arrived for the well-digger to bring in his big machine, Bruce and I got up to the property early. We knew intuitively that we needed to tell the mountain what was coming that morning. We asked her forgiveness for this initial violation of her deep places, and expressed our gratitude for her (albeit involuntary) gift of this piece of herself. Yes, our spontaneous ritual got out of hand a bit: we thanked the trees we would soon fell for their long service, and promised to recycle and repurpose them as mulch and firewood and perhaps some furniture and trim. We thanked the bedrock for its support of the house’s foundation. We made all kinds of promises about being good stewards of the land, walking lightly on the earth, honoring the wild nature of these mountain acres.

We intend to keep those promises insofar as we are able. On that morning before the well drilling began, and every day since, we touch the ground and give thanks. Without knowing exactly when she said yes, we know in our bones that she did. Our mountain has invited us home.


  1. Great to see your blog! What a wonderful way to be communicating with the world. Enjoy.

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