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. Yellow Springs resident Abigail Cobb won honorable mention in the adult category.
The summer that I turned eleven I planted some marigold seeds in my backyard, around the edges of the square of unevenly set paving stones we called “the patio.” Someone must have given the seeds to me, an invisible child in a large, troubled family, as I rarely bought anything at the store myself. Wherever they came from, those seeds were planted, watered, and came up with feathered green leaves, soon budding, and then blooming in bold shades of gold, copper, and brass. I was entranced by this magical metamorphosis. Without anyone seeming to notice, I visited my flowers many times each day, kneeling to inhale their dark, spicy fragrance that transported me to a place uniquely my own.
As school started up again, and the cool nights of autumn arrived, I watched, fascinated, as the blooms closed, forming dried pods, which I broke open to discover neat packets of thin, black seeds. I saved them in a paper bag, and planted them again in spring, a ritual I continue to this day.
Although I have never lived on a farm, or built a cabin on some wild hillside, I live on the land. In the morning when I step outside, I touch the ground, just to feel her aliveness, and breathe in her earthly scent. This land, here, beneath my feet holds and nourishes me, connecting me to my deepest self. The marigolds taught me so.