I was fortunate to spend time at Thanksgiving with my family in south Jersey. My sister and I took a lovely walk in the woods behind the cemetery where my dad and most of his family are buried. This is the Wharton tract, a preserve of 122,880 acres in the heart of the Jersey Pine Barrens, the largest in the state.
When I go online to read about Batsto Village and Wharton State Forest, it leaves me kind of cold. Facts and figures don't give the feel of home and history. The Pine Barrens are my bioregional home. I am a fourth-generation "Piney" - someone born and raised in the pines. The sandy soil, the pitch pines, cat briers, teaberry, jack oak these are my kin. The waters of the Mullica and Batsto Rivers are lifeblood. I still delight in the sweet smell of the cedar water; I relish the irony taste of the artisan well at Batsto. To walk along these rivers with their slow, serpentine meanderings is like walking with a friend. The feel of pine duff and sand beneath my feet is an invitation to keep hiking, to check out what is around the next bend.
This is home - not just because my family lives here or because the pines have embraced my deceased relatives, but because I love this land and all my kin who live here!

Share your "home spot" on this good Earth...


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