Ancestors and the Land

My ancestors on my father’s side lived in rural West Virginia. As far back as I know, all the way to my Great Grandfather, all the men were coal miners. My Great Grandfather fought in the Civil War. He was a POW. My Grandfather, his son, was killed in the mines when my father was 4 years old.

My Great Great Grandfather, fought in the civil war and became a POW, before he married and had 7 children
My Grandfather who was killed in the West Virginia coal mines when my dad was a boy.

All their lives they were connected to the earth, deep inside her soul. The winters were harsh and spring and summers were lush in the mountains and valleys of the verdant countryside of West Virginia.

My dad was a geologist. He was connected to the earth through soil samples and oil wells. So, as far back as I know they were all grounded in nature, in rocks and soil, dirt and sky, land and water. His father, his father’s father, etc.

In the summers, when I was a kid, we would travel and primitive camp with my parents when my brother, sister and I were barely school age. I remember there was no one better than my dad to take a hike with. He knew every rock, every animal print. He knew the trees, he knew what kinds of clouds shifted through the days. He understood cliffs and rock formations. I was astounded and delighted he knew so much about the nature that surrounded us. I was fascinated and something inside my mind also grounded itself when he spoke of these things.

Even my maiden name, “Sheaves” is connected to the earth. The earth’s bounty, the sustenance that is pulled from the earth for our survival, to feed and nourish our bodies. The energy of the ground grows in my cells and in my genetic makeup.

Sheaves of wheat

My mother’s side lived in rural Arkansas. They were doctors during the Depression. My mom grew up with horses and carried that love to my brother, sister and me. She knew the smell of horse hair, manure, hay and feed. She felt the saddle soap and needsfoot oil on her hands when she cleaned her tack. She smelled the earth and breathed it deep into her nostrils.

I too, grew up with a love for horses and my Australian saddle is my pride and joy. I have spent many an hour riding trails. I used to say riding cleared out all the cobwebs in my mind. And it did. I would get on my horse and nothing whatsoever except the current moment is what flew through my thoughts. I was transfixed and transposed to another dimension. Grounded to the earth through the hooves of a 4 legged animal. I felt the ground through it’s body as I trodded along equestrian trails I came to know like the back of my hand.

So is my love of the land set in stone in my DNA? Is that why I can feel the heartbeat of the soil when I trek my favorite outdoor trail? Is it why I choose to eat foods associated with the season? Is it why I have gravitated to the mountains and the countryside? I think there is definitely a strong connection to the place I have chosen to live now. I want the seasons. I want to experience Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. I want to taste the snow and feel the fall colors. I want to sense the earth’s changes as it progress through the year. Just like my grandparents and their parents before them, I feel stronger and safe when connected to the earth.

“The present is continually reshaping events, whereas the history of our ancestors alone merely chronicles the tides of time. History deprived of its stories becomes petrified into sound-bites, but when stories inspire history, we hear the voices of the past echoed in our own life, our own ears and the images we see with out own eyes.” Celtic Spirit by Caitlin Matthews

What stories are trying to surface from long ago embedded in your DNA? What stories will be told of you in futures not yet lived by those who follow after you?

In fairness, we are all rooted in the earth. We all return to dust when we pass on, yet the influence we have on the earth, and on others, lives on through our lives.

One thought on “Ancestors and the Land

  1. Dear Lynette, Oh my gosh this is wonderful and thank you for the terrific photos!  Your words brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat….Your ancestors live on through you.yet again beautifully written. xoxoxox Karen  

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