Friday, March 26, 2010

Through our long eternity

Extended exposure of firelight off pine bark

The goal this week is home-hunting. Not just land-hunting, but home-hunting. For all of my talk about home, I’m ready to find one for real, to quit being homeless, to put down roots. So my second Alabama land-hunting expedition begins. I have it down to almost a science: find cheap land online via craigslist (my search criteria are more than five acres for under $20,000), plan out an itinerary using Google maps, find a cheap back-country camping place for intermediary stopovers, and then go.

It’s amazing how alive this kind of travel makes me feel, the same way hiking and sailing both did. My joke has always been that I’m never happier than when I’m sleeping in a place that I’ve never slept before. It’s ironic that the land hunt itself, while I’m searching for someplace to remain still, allows me to experience adventure as I travel. It makes me second-guess my motives.

I keep thinking that I don’t need a real home, or a real place to put down roots. I just need a resting point, like in that John Donne poem, where he describes his wife as the stationary compass point around which he travels, and to which he always returns. Like that, except minus the wife. If I have a place I can come back to, then I can kayak down the Mississippi, or trek around South America, or do relief work in Afghanistan, all the while knowing I can come back and not be a homeless person. I can be a person with a landed estate.

So. On this trip so far I have visited these cities in Alabama: Muscadine, Heflin, Wedowee, and Sylacauga. Beautiful names, aren’t they? Not such beautiful pieces of property. I did find a couple of nice lots off a dirt road in Wedowee, but I’m not sure if they’re as nice as the spot I found on the western side of the state in January.

Camping has been better. Last night I camped for all of $3, in the middle of a National Forest, with not another campsite at the campground occupied. It was a beautiful night, an almost-full moon, clouds crossing and blocking the moonlight and the chill, a gorgeous pine fire. I listened to Bjork and experimented with my digital camera, exposing shots of the moon and the trees for a full sixty seconds.

Now I’m lying on a mattress in the back of the van that K. set up as a mobile-adventure unit: it carries motorcycle, inflatable kayak, backpacking equipment, GoLite teepee, grill, coolers, and anything else I could possibly need. I’m confident that this trip will allow me to find a place I can call my own, even if it is just some bare red-dirt acres with scrub pines. Then the real work begins, of figuring out whether or not I’m brave enough to allow my roots to dig into the soil.

1 comment:

wfrenn said...

What a great time exposure picture of the firelight off the pine tree!

The Capt'n