The Longing for ‘Environmental Togetherness’

It is officially autumn now. Autumn always makes me nostalgic, more so than spring and summer. The waning atmospheric light or the poignant scents of a composting harvest on fallow fields challenges our future fecundity.

Everything begins to feel more internalized and the land knows this, too.

Wetland vegetation near our former family farm in the Hudson Valley | credit: Abigail Doan

With every passing season, I am making a practice of returning to the familiar plots and fence lines of my childhood farm in the Hudson Valley. We no longer own this land, but because I still long for its climate of layered memories, I continue to check in seasonally to survey any changes.

The plantings and fence lines of childhood wanderings on the land | credit: Abigail Doan

My senses feel both deadened and heightened during these visits. Sometimes the links seem broken, and often one has to listen more intently to connect through the fog. Why is it that the entire world feels so different from last season? How quickly are the crops rotating? In what manner is the earth’s rich soil continually revealing what we need to see but still cannot grasp?

A network of wetland vegetation near old trails and field edges | credit: Abigail Doan

My sense is that we are all longing, in this current era of global upheaval, for proof of ‘environmental togetherness’. A nostalgic longing (after the recognition of a profound loss) — that is rooted in the prescient memory of what might be resiliently interwoven and foreseen as a matter of course.

As a cure or remedy for these sentiments, I have also been handcrafting tools to aid in the navigation of this current climate of cultural, environmental, and political turmoil.

‘Cure for Nostalgia 02’ | assemblage/collage (2017) | credit: Abigail Doan

I am not proposing a cure-all. This would be too simplistic and even narcissistic. Activism takes varying forms and is informed by an intimate assessment of what fundamentally (read: urgently) matters, both individually and collectively.

Wetland vegetation with webs near our former family farm | credit: Abigail Doan

though, might now be a further cultivation of what continues to uphold our cohesiveness. The constant act of continually engaging with individuals, materials, place, and those seemingly fragile elements that help us to understand (protect) things implicitly.

The is what leads us there — brings us back during precarious times. Reminds us of why a deeper sensitivity to atmosphere and the mass of gravity might better prepare us for what remains.

[ all words and images by Abigail Doan ]

projects and writing exploring the intersections of site-specific, landscape phenomena and art lab/design methodologies.

projects and writing exploring the intersections of site-specific, landscape phenomena and art lab/design methodologies.