Paul Gruchow

Paul Gruchow Essay Contest 2015- Submission deadline April 18, 2015. Guidelines at the Events/Contests link. Submit at the Submittable link.

In his book "Grass Roots: The Necessity of Home," the acknowledgements are a tribute to Bill Holm, Emilie Buchwald, Carol Bly, the Land Institute and the Land Stewardship Association and others  for their help and support. The  first chapter, called "Home is a Place in Time," gives "shape and substance" to the abstract: what is time? Paul writes, "Nostalgia is the clinical term for homesickness, for the desire to be rooted in a place --to know clearly, that is, what time is. This desire need not imply the impulse to turn back the clock, which of course we cannot do. It recognizes, rather, the truth--if home is a place in time--that we cannot know where we are now unless we can remember where we have come from."

Paul wrote, "That all history is ultimately local and personal. To tell what we remember, and to keep on telling it, is to keep the past alive in the present. Should we not do so, we could not know, in the deepest sense, how to inhabit a place. To inhabit, to have made it the custom and ordinary practice of our lives, to have learned how to wear a place like a familiar garment, like the garments of sanctity that nuns wore. The word habit, in its now-dim orginal form, meant to own. We own places not because we possesss the deeds to them, but because they have entered the continuum of our lives. What is strange to us--unfamiliar--can never be home."

Some people have asked why Writers Rising Up to Defend Place, Natural Habitat and Wetlands, includes "place" in our name. There is no better explanation for what a "place" is than Paul's exquisite telling. A place is a habit, a well-worn garment, a familiar comfort, a place of remembrance we never forget. We recall places we've experienced in our thoughts and conversations and they become a part of our shared and personal history.

Paul wrote, "Nostalgia is the clinical term for homesickness, for the desire to be rooted in a place-- to know clearly, that is, what time it is. This desire need not imply the impulse to turn back the clock, which of course we can't do. It recognizes, rather than truth-- if home is a place in time--that we cannot know where we are unless we can remember where we have come from."

For anyone who is submitting to the Paul Gruchow Essay Contest we recommend reading Paul's books, including "Grass Roots: The Universe of Home."