This year WYSO and Tecumseh Land Trust sponsored Living on the Land, an essay contest inviting writers of all ages to reflect on what home and land mean to them. Tess Greene won the grand prize in the high school category.
I believe living on the land can take endless forms—save for living in a space station or on a boat.
I was actually raised in a barn renovated to be an apartment until I started school, surrounded by forests and fields. I could walk twenty paces and be in a playground of endless walnuts, squirrels, and birdsong: a literal jungle gym, with roots growing deeper than I was tall.
When we moved into town so I could start school, my world turned into a suburban jungle. Paved roads greeted me as I stepped off my bus, but my backyard was still a natural haven. It stretched far behind my house, down to a creek where my neighbor and I caught crawdads. My father and I spent hours in that field, growing a garden and playing on a rope swing we tied to a tree.
Yet, once again, I was transported to a new land, one with a backyard barely bigger than my bedroom, and a single tree, but still just a different form of living on the land. Rather than trees, dozens of sunflowers stretch over my head. Tomatoes, mint, and peppers fill our garden. A family of albino squirrels darts through my neighborhood. I’m surrounded by bricks and wires, but the land will always remain beneath my feet. It is where my roots grow.