Dialect: Life, Community, Landscape


April 24, 2012

Belinda and I will spend much of the day placing irrigation mainline and backfilling trench.  That is all of the day except for a few hours this morning.

Not that long ago I read an essay on funerals.  The writer compared funeral services he experienced back east to those of the west.  He spoke to a belief of eastern funerals having a higher degree of ritual and communal comfort than western funerals.  In part, he supported this line of thought saying the ritual of spreading ashes (a western ritual in his estimation) did not provide the community groundedness as, say, occurs when the congregational family comes together and provides food and comfort in the fellowship hall after a burial service.  When I finished the essay, I could not help but to think the transplanted eastern writer missed the values and richness of culture—east or west.

Landscapes speak to individuals and communities with their own unique voice.  The landscape of forested Arkansas simply speaks a different language than an arid western landscape lying east of the Cascade mountain range.  More so, the dialect of the arid eastern rain-shadowed Washington Cascades is different from the twang of the arid eastern rain-shadowed California Sierras.

This morning the twang is apparent.  Belinda and I have the afternoon to place irrigation line because there is no My Future after-school today.  There is no after-school today because a community member died and school canceled.  Instead of school today, the whole community is invited to the school gym for funeral services.  For this community, in this landscape, the end of life is so important it is okay, even supported, to close school and businesses so everyone might gather, remember, and grieve together.

So, this afternoon, when Belinda and I gather to place pipe into the earth, there is a fair chance our groundedness is more than standing waist deep in the ground, but also that we have become entrenched in the deep care of our whole community.

© David B. Bell 2012


  1. Dave, this is a sensitive intertwining of culture, community, and environment. Thanks for the reflection, and I hope you got the piping installed. Keith


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