I have been hearing and seeing the word “rooted” a lot lately. Feeling rooted, being rooted, Deep Rooted Greenhouses, the Rooted Spoon, getting back to your roots, Rootstock, the Root Note café—it all made me think to myself, “What a cool word, rooted!” It can mean a lot of different things to different people and apply to many areas of life. Here is what “rooted” means to me:
Standing on a piece of land and knowing the history of the land and who had it generations before you. The feeling of owning your own land and sitting in the woods overlooking a valley interspersed with farms and ridgetops where you can see the silos and combines off in the distance. Living in a small town and knowing the stories of the people who came before you and how your town came to be what it is today. Walking through town and waving at people driving by, stopping by the café for a conversation, a place where everybody knows your name. A community that stands behind all that is part of it—packed high school football stands, church potlucks, hamburgers in the park with local musicians, busloads of fans following the local basketball team to state, pitching in and raising funds for a community fine arts building. That’s feeling rooted!
My husband and I once lived in a suburb and worked in downtown Milwaukee, leaving little time to make connections with those who lived around us. When you live in a suburb of a city full of “big box” stores and freeways, it is harder to feel rooted in the community. During the time that we lived there, we bought 20 acres of land in southwest Wisconsin and built an Amish cabin as a getaway. With frequent four hour drives to the cabin, a new baby and the magical feeling we got when we crossed the county line into Vernon County, we decided to follow our hearts and move. That was ten years ago, and we haven’t looked back. Long before this, during college, I worked at a summer camp in a beautiful valley in southwest Wisconsin. One of the counselors said something to me that stayed in the back of my mind: “These hills–they get in your blood and become a part of you.” That’s feeling rooted!
We bought a 100-year-old house in town across from a beautiful park with trees that had been there just as long. The house had history, and the longer we lived there the more stories we heard. The postmaster used to live there and the original carriage house still stands. The dumb waiter in the kitchen would lower lemonade to those in the basement seeking refuge from the summer heat. If these walls could talk. That’s feeling rooted!
I grew up in Madison and loved the outdoors and Little House on the Prairie. I would often pretend I was a pioneer and play in the old farmhouse across the street from where I grew up. When I filled out my high school job survey that would suggest what I should do when I grow up, the number one occupation listed for me was farmer! I wanted to do math and be outdoors and be active! Despite those survey results, I didn’t step foot on a farm until I was in college and visited a roommate’s home farm. However, I recently started working at Organic Valley / CROPP Cooperative in southwest Wisconsin, and I am working for farmers and doing math! I am a CROPPie rooted in community, history and shared values. That’s feeling rooted!
I can honestly say that I do something every day that makes me feel rooted in this community, no matter how big or small. Attending a school event, picking grapes with my kids at the local vineyard, attending a live music event, using the library, going to church, buying local. Just going to work every day and working with a company that is rooted in the community as well. I have found the place where I want to put down my roots. I want to grow old here among traffic jams of Amish buggies, local farm markets, community events, vineyards, outdoor recreational opportunities, small family farms, and the feeling that I play a role in it all. It’s a simpler way of life. That’s feeling rooted.