One of the primary themes of Wendell Berry’s work is the importance of place. His Jefferson lecture is titled “It All Turns on Affection” because he believes so many of our modern problems stem from a lack of affection for our place, for our homes, for the land. I’ve been convinced of this, as well, in reading him over the years, but moving to our new place last summer has made this truth so much more personal.
We’ve lived at Funky Farms for nearly a year. I don’t think a day has gone by since we’ve lived here that Grant or I haven’t remarked to each other how much we genuinely love this place. We liked our old house too – we made many wonderful memories there. We planted trees and plants and attempted to truly know that place, but our attachment to this place has so much more depth and, yes, affection, in just a few short months that I can’t imagine how we will feel after living here for five years, let along twenty or thirty. I don’t think you need to move to a farm to have this affection for a place. In fact, we attempted to cultivate it at our old house in quintessential suburbia as well, but, for us, this new land of ours has proved the wisdom and importance of Berry’s admonition to be “a sticker,”
Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker…
It is not beside the point, or off my subject, to notice that these stories and their meanings, have survived because of my family’s continuing connection to its home place. Like my grandfather, my father grew up on that place and served as its caretaker. It has now belonged to my brother for many years, and he in turn has been its caretaker. He and I have lived as neighbors, allies, and friends. Our long conversation has often taken its themes from the two stories I have told, because we have been continually reminded of them by our home neighborhood and topography. If we had not lived there to be reminded and to remember, nobody would have remembered. If either of us had lived elsewhere, both of us would have known less. If both of us, like most of our generation, had moved away, the place with its memories would have been lost to us and we to it—and certainly my thoughts about agriculture, if I had thought of it at all, would have been much more approximate than they have been.