Walk Around
Walk Around
24 - Harvest

24 - Harvest

Thinking about edges near a Trappist abbey


(Includes typos and run on sentences)

Welcome to Walk Around. This is Hudson Gardner.

I've always been attracted to edges.

And I feel like I've written about it.

About edges, I guess, many times, trying to understand

Why I'm always kind of going along to edges and right now I'm sitting right at the edge of light in open oak woodland in western Oregon in the Willamette Valley.

It's a really rare type of place these days, actually, in this area.

It used to be the dominant ecotone or guild, kind of a mix of sedges and grasses, reeds in the more marshy areas, madrone, old standing doug fir.

and kind of some open meadows and kind of like a prairie savanna.

I think they call it an oak savanna.

And it's one of the most beautiful types of environment that I think exists in the world.

You have these huge gnarled oak trees that have branches going every different direction and they're so articulate and so complicated and so beautiful and so stable it seems, so strong.

And then you have the grasses in between them and younger oaks coming up and flowers when it's raining in the spring and all these insects that you can hear.

Stellar’s Jays going from dead trees, from a snag to a snag looking around for things to eat.

Woodpeckers and hawks.

And then you have this forest edge here that's just a solid wall of big doug fir and some elderberries and young ash trees.

And here I am sitting right at the edge and the edge of the light thinking about how I'm so attracted to spots like this once again.

I was once talking to a friend who was an ecology major in college, and she was mentioning that when we were stopped somewhere, we were standing with some trees behind us looking out on an open space—and she said “it feels good to be here.” And we both started talking about: why is that?

Why does it feel good to be in a spot like this?

With the trees behind and open space in front and I think it's a very old feeling.

It's a feeling of possibility and openness in front and then behind safety and shelter and places to hide and get out of the elements and stuff and also another different type of food and resource available.

And I think that's why standing on the edges of forests and fields has always felt good to me.

Maybe it's this very old kind of a feeling.

And then there's all these edges in life, like transition, which I feel like in a weird way for the last 10 years or something, I've been in some state of transition where I haven't ever really touched down and stayed wherever I've been.

I feel like there's many people who listen to this podcast who've met me in one of the many places that I've lived and then moved on from.

And transition is really hard, actually, because everything's up in the air.

You have to find all the things.

Whenever you get to the next place you're going, you're constantly considering about what you need.

Friends aren't just a given.

Community isn't just a given.

It's this thing you're having to build actively every time you move somewhere else.

Being on the edge like that for so long, like I have, I feel like has been really hard.

And it makes me wonder why I prolonged this kind of lifestyle, endlessly moving around.

I feel like I've talked about this before,

It's all led me to where I am now which is I think been an essential and really important and extremely I guess extremely necessary path

It's like the more situations I've found myself in and moved on from, the more I've learned.

And not just touching down and staying somewhere has really opened my world to a massive possibility of people and interactions and ways of life and ways of thought and it's really cleaned my brain out and my body I think in many ways.

and kind of detoxified me from some of my harsher tendencies towards judgment and criticism and things like that.

To set out into the world really makes a person realize how insignificant they are.

Especially if you go somewhere and you're always having to rebuild your life wherever you stop.

You're new to everyone.

You have to explain your story.

After a while it starts to get old and you want to just rest and be somewhere and have community and it's hard.

I guess I would call that an edge too.

Edges are important because it's where interchange happens.

If you look at the edges of a cell or

A bioregion or the ocean or a field in a forest, that's where all the activity is happening.

Or a lot of it.

A lot of the biodiversity, for example, in ecology is in the edges of places like estuaries or where rivers meet the sea or the edges of forests, as I was mentioning.

because the light penetrates and allows different things to grow and it brings creatures there and then they have interactions with the plants and other creatures and if you often look around on the edges of fields and you see old trees cut back in the forest there will almost always be a hawk in them if you look long enough because the hawks are watching the edge of the field for mice where the mice come to get the fallen grains and seeds from the grass

And so it's this great interchange.

It's this place of turbidity and interaction and commotion.

The edges are where it's really unsettled, which is, I guess, why it feels unsettled in some ways to be there, but maybe also why I relate to the edges of places so much.

The center, on the other hand, represents, if you think about it, it represents home, it seems.

The center, the middle, the place that we move outwards from.

It seems like it represents some kind of potential point.

And then the edges are where we reach out to, where I found myself reaching out to in my journeys.

I think I have a lot of home trauma because I

I haven't really had much of a sense of home since I was eight or nine years old.

I kind of had to build it over the years and then deconstruct it and build it again and it's been pretty hard.

Wow, I just saw a pileated woodpecker.

I wonder if you can hear that.

They're huge.

They're almost as big as a hawk.

That's special.

So this beautiful oak woodland is part of a Catholic Abbey.

It's a monastery for monks, actually.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Franciscan Monastery, I think.

Or Trappist.

It's a Trappist Abbey.

Not a monastery.

Trappist Abbey.

But it's a beautiful place and I've come here in many seasons.

I haven't come here in late summer in the evening though and it's just so beautiful, the light and the lack of people and all the animals are going about their evening business and could ask for nothing more.

I've been working I'd say 10 to 12 hour days, maybe sometimes 13.

Six days a week at a winery and it's been really hard.

I think partially because I see it as very much a dead end kind of a job.

I'm not intending to go into wine nor do I really like wine.

It was just the only job that I could find around here without having to drive into Portland and get a job there because I'm living at my mom's house.

because my plans to go to college fell through for my acupuncture degree.

So I'm in this weird purgatory at the moment of not being able to go to school but kind of waiting for an entire year, which isn't really very much fun.

So I'm working at this winery and the only thing that's really keeping me sane has been getting to know the people that I'm working with and getting to know their struggles and listening to them and talking with them and trying to kind of get to know how to be a temporary ephemeral friend to them because for the most part maybe totally I won't see any of them after

the work is over most none of them really live anywhere near me and we don't really have that much in common though there's a couple people that I feel like I could be friends with but they don't really live around here well they don't live here at all they live in a bus we have a lot in common but um it's been rough because I haven't really had any time to do something like come to this woodland and

Just sit and think and reflect and kind of puzzle out what my next step is.

Some of the things I've been thinking about a lot are how my art and creativity is such a solitary kind of a practice.

I mean, I don't really interview people that much, which I guess I could do more.

um but my writing and photography i mean all of it's done alone for the most part or i guess sometimes kind of with you know walking around with a friend or a significant other or something but um it's not like i do something for people two of the people i work with are tattooers and so their art is very much

The art that they choose to turn into tattoos is very much something for others.

And that's very useful.

It's a very applicable kind of art.

Flexible, mobile, you can get paid for it.

Especially if you're as skilled as they are.

But for writing, it's like nobody even reads anymore.

I mean there's these statistics which I feel like are just booked that have been coaxed by publishers that are like, well actually more people read than ever before.

That's gotta be nonsense.

I feel like, unless it's people that I don't know about or something, I feel like less people must be reading than ever before.

Or at least they're not reading with much attention.

They're more like skimming stuff or something.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Who knows?

But it's a weird time to be a writer.

And that's why I have this podcast.

Because being a writer is like


Good luck.

Um, so I've been thinking, you know, I would really like to offer medicine to people.

Um, once I get licensed and stuff and that's going to take four years.

So boy,what a process I found myself in.

I think purgatory is a pretty good word for it.

At least it feels that way.

And there's this other thing, I don't know if it's just my age or it's my social group or what's going on, but I just feel like more than ever before my social connections and ability to kind of make friends is really lacking.

There's a couple people I've reached out to that I feel like are maybe going to work out as somebody to meet up with and become friends with, but I feel like as people get older, it's like most people don't do the thing I've done, where I've moved around so much, and they've just stayed somewhere for the ten years or whatever it's been that I've been wandering around, or at least for like five, or at least like two.

And in that time they found their set of people, their relationships, their job, and their stability more or less. And they have a hell of a lot more stability than I do, that's for sure.

Like for the most part, I feel like people of my socioeconomic class and race likely have a lot more stability than I have at the moment.

Very privileged, you know, and me as well.

So when I come around or am kind of lurking around the edges of social groups or whatever, it's like, well, you know, who's this guy?

Maybe if he lives here a year, I'll like run into him enough to be friends with him, but it just takes forever.

And, uh, it's really like I'm striking out.

In fact, I feel like to be a lone male of my age, it's almost just like suspicious because I'm single now.

So, it's like, well, what happened to you?

Oh, boy.

Today, there was a rare wind event that was really not that dramatic, but it happens from time to time when the dry sometimes cool but sometimes warm air blows from the interior of the state towards the ocean. The normal flow of the winds blowing from the west reverses and the winds blows from the east. And so today we had kind of a hot dry wind blowing all day. And now there's one kind of playing around through the grasses. And these scrub jays nearby seem to be having a discussion and the winds moving around and

I am walking around trying to figure my life out.

It's just been a lot that's been going on and this is really the only place I can talk about it without feeling like I'm burdening people. Because if you don't want to listen to it, you can just press pause and move on with your life.

So thanks for listening this far if you have.

It's really kind of you.

And I think things will get better.

This is quite the self-absorbed episode but you know honesty is important.

I have a friend who's a psychiatrist in residence and he always tells me that he really appreciates my honesty, and maybe more people do too.

I don't know.

I think honesty is really, really, really important.

And I think that if there's any type of resistance in a person about being honest, that is really a good place to start looking and kind of being curious about.

I just watched this Stellar's Jay fly out from this Ponderosa and grab a moth that was flying through the air and chomp it.

That was pretty cool.

It's nice to be in a natural area rather than just surrounded by tens of thousands of pounds of grapes.

As my friend Cedar calls it, the sticky job site.

Thanks for listening.

Walk Around
Walk Around
We Are All A Part. Writing and recordings about nature, existence, and wildness—at three miles per hour.
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Hudson Gardner