Posted by: janpierce | December 1, 2008

What’s Your Identity?

We just returned from a long Thanksgiving weekend in southern Oregon with our close friends. We spent the days in cattle ranching country and with a cattle ranching family. There’s open space; wildlife–deer, elk, hawks, pheasants to be seen and cougar, snakes, coyotes, and more unseen. There are homes dwarfed by the huge numbers of acres surrounding them. It reminded me a little bit of my farm relatives in North Dakota–houses and outbuildings and lots of land. It was beautiful, but I wasn’t “at home”. Home to me is tall green trees, dark rich soil with flowers and shrubs. It’s forest and trails and water somewhere nearby. It’s access to the ocean and the sandy beaches I love. My life is one generation off the farms and ranches and a step from the rural toward the suburbs. Being there amongst the large, extended family and listening to their talk of kids and grandkids, hunting and cows and fences, I knew I was visiting a friendly, but foreign land. I loved it but I was a visitor. One day we hiked up into the rocky hills and found some indian petroglyphs. I needed a sawed off shovel handle to help stabilize the steps through the rock. It was a clear sunny day and once on top of the hills we could see through a large part of the Langell valley. One of the discussions over the weekend was about how three main families homesteaded and developed that valley. Some of their old homesteads and outbuildings are still standing, leaning over from years of wind and snow beating away at them. People around the valley know its’ history and they’re mindful of their place in the ongoing saga. As we sat around large dining tables I looked at the older generation and then at those closer to my age and the young couples with their little families growing around them and finally the little ones who are going to grow up in cattle country. They’ll understand all the nuances of country life and they’ll have a good life too. They’ll know who they are and they’ll be sheltered by the older ones, eventually becoming their caretakers. There is a strong sense of belonging in that family and even though some of the fold have moved to the cities to make their lives, they know their beginnings and go home when they can.

There is great strength to be drawn from knowing and understanding your roots. Where did you come from and where do you return to touch base with your personal history? Where do belong now and are you able to go home when you need to? Where is “home” for you? What’s your identity?



  1. No one goes to Langell valley! Hardly anyone ever even goes to Klamath Falls. But it is so beautiful there, isn’t it? I miss the mountains, the sky, the wide open spaces, the absence of crowds, and the rushing rivers…. and water that tastes good! No, I am not from Klamath Falls, so don’t ask, but I am very familiar with the area, with Central Oregon, and with the Pacific Northwest. Isn’t a prettier place in the world, I think.

    Glad you could go for Thanksgiving. Must have been special.

  2. Love your writing btw, and looking forward to reading more from your site.

    For myself, I think it may be the ‘land’ that gives me a feeling of home. Families are of course a large part of that, but honestly, I tend to feel more grounded when I’m around the lands and sceneries that I grew up with. There’s something about a familiar tree, a hill or a section of country that without, you feel empty and somewhat displaced.

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