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  • We grew up camping. I remember summer evenings, holidays, church retreats, and youth group gatherings on my family’s property out in East Texas. We would shoot fireworks on the 4th of July, play paintball with the youth group, cook over the open stove and play hide and seek in the graveyard. We would have family reunions under a giant oak tree, being sure to avoid the open-air well that may or may not still be functioning. That property is where I learned to drive a car, where I first drove a stick shift, and where I learned to drive a motorcycle. Our dog is buried there. So many important memories in my life stem from my connection to that piece of land.

    But it’s not just my life. I’ve heard stories of cousins, uncles, aunts, my parents, my grandparents, and their families and extended families with incredible memories of a farm in Enloe, Texas. While some of my family members actually have lived, and still do, in Enloe, I’ve learned over the years how important it is to still be connected to land somewhere. While I don’t personally own land, I cannot forget the feeling of what it’s like to sleep under the stars, to eat over a fire, and to sit around late at night, hearing crickets and frogs, telling stories as the crisp night air sets. You can’t forget roasting marshmallows, coffee in a percolator, and the wet mist of the grass.

    To me, this lifestyle is vital to my health. I’m a city-dweller. A suburbanite. It’s hard for me to understand what it’s like to grow food, to till the land, and to be subject to nature. We spend much of our lives actively trying not to connect to the land—we buy from grocery stores and probably haven’t seen what many produce items actually look like in the ground, we cook with an electric burner, we have air-conditioning that keeps us from smelling and feeling the wind’s breeze.

    It’s interesting—every time I “go camping,” I feel revitalized. While I’ll probably never live on a farm, I hope I can at least stay connected to the earth.

    AJ