Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Am A Salmon

Me: Guess what my next post is called?

M:  What?

Me: I am a salmon.

M:   I like that... Is it because you're swimming upstream?

Me: No.

M: Because you're pink?

Me: No.

M:  Because you're really tasty when you're all buttered up?

Me: Wow.


Many salmon are anadromous — meaning they live in the saltwater of the ocean but return to freshwater when it's time to invite the next generation onto the scene. Scientists don't really know how salmon find their way back to the exact stream in which they were born (instinct, smell, inner GPS?), but they do.

A young salmon will stay in the river where it was born for the first 1-3 years of its life. It then heads for the great, wide ocean where it matures. Amazingly, this salmon will then migrate back to it's original home sweet home to spawn. The journey to get there can be hundreds of miles upstream against rapids and currents, and filled with big, bad, hungry bears.

Why, salmon?  What's the big deal?

As I recall, I was ready to move away from home when I was 14. I managed to create a "choose your own adventure" high school experience and did a decent amount of traveling, working, studying and creating. I learned and matured a lot.
Since marrying and having children, I find it interesting that I've never felt we've found our long-term home. We've covered 4 provinces and 10 years- following education and job opportunities. We put down little baby roots and plugged into the community, made lasting friendships and connected with neighbors. But I planted trees and raspberry bushes knowing someone else would be benefiting from the shade and harvest.

And that's okay.

Now there are some options opening to us and we've been trying to figure out what we're looking for in our permanent home. Here's where the salmon kicks in. Since becoming a mother, something in me has been drawn to my native habitat. My childhood experience is the standard by which I judge. I want all the good things from my childhood to be part of/valued by my children. Is this a common feeling? Is it a Darwinian thing? The salmon being alive, being adult, means something went well. Am I hoping to give my children a "chance of survival" based on the patterns that fostered my survival?

Family, water, beauty, time, quiet, freedom, work, nature, the smell of a cedar hedge, a walk to the post office, knowing everyone in the neighbourhood by name. Most of this I ached to get away from in my teens. I wanted to DO something! All this quiet, all this simplicity of living- did people know what was happening in the world?!

After high school, I lived and taught in Cuba. This time in my life showed me that the way we change the world is by changing ourselves and raising healthy (in every sense of the word) children. The Cubans I loved were living that same simple life- feeding, cleaning, teaching, creating a home, talking about ideas, dancing, laughing, working, reading, growing. That first lesson has been reconfirmed to me over and over. Here is our power. A healthy home, community, world, whatever... is made up of healthy individuals. Want peace in your home? Community? Be peaceful. (It's not as easy as it sounds!)

So... now the salmon in me is wanting to go back to my little stream and surround my little fishies with all the goodness I can find. And anadromous or not, I can smell cedar and it's pulling at my heart.


Jacob Skinner said...

There is something to homelands and the familiarity they bring but the 'island' is a special place which I think would be a difficult 'homeland' to resist.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would you choose?

Megan said...

Katie, as one who has lived away from home for many years as well, and recently settled back here, I tell you COME!
Life here is quiet. Making of friends slow.
But the reality of hands in the soil, kids having more freedom, family here when you need them, fresh air and water, it speaks to our souls.

Katie said...

Jake, that's the problem! I'm not sure. I would pick the island in a second if I could have a slightly stronger church and home school community.... To be honest though, that's just me being a chicken. I can do the work to create that community there.

Megan, I know! I know! It's in our souls....