I’m reading an amazing book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Someone in my Master Gardening group recommended it, and I’m so glad I decided to buy it. The author is a master of weaving words, and poetic descriptions. Its a beautiful masterpiece of words and thoughts, and teaching and history. I hope you decide to read it too.
In reading the history of the author’s Native upbringing, and her quest to find her true self, I found myself questioning my ancestral status as well. Who are my people? I’m a mix of many. And I was fortunate enough to have grow up with grandparents nearby. I grew up with their stories. But what about the ones before them? How much of me is environmental, and how much is genetics?
The field of epigenetics is fascinating. The whole world is fascinating. I have always been that curious child, wanting to know how everything works. And why? And how? How does a monarch butterfly, hatched from a tiny egg in North Dakota, know where it should go in Mexico when it migrates? And how does any being migrate in the first place? The herds of caribou? The birds and insects? How do they know when to go? Or where to go? How do they all join up and head out together, even if they live more solitary lives otherwise? Fascinating, but I want to know.
Why do children in one family all look very similar, but the children in a different family look nothing alike, even though they have the same parents? Why is gene expression so vastly different in one family versus another?
I always felt I was born into the wrong family. So many times my questions were answered with, “Because that’s the way God made it.” That was also my cue to stop asking. But I couldn’t stop thinking about those ideas, and wanting to know the answers. My parents bought me a set of encyclopedias when I was a child. I read them all. But back in the 80’s, they didn’t have all the answers to my questions. They still don’t, all these years later, but they do have guesses.
Where does my never ending thirst for knowledge come from? Was there an ancestor who always questioned everything? Who wanted to know how everything works and why?
How many of my ancestors loved animals and taking care of them? Did any of my Viking tribe keep pets? Maybe a big hawk or a falcon? Maybe the Germans? Or the Bohemians? Ancestry.com told me what my crazy mix was, and I was surprised how many different places my DNA came from, including a very small splash of Native American and Southeastern Asian. My blonde hair, green eyes, and fair complexion wouldn’t have you guessing many of those.
I look a lot like my German grandfather, but my paternal Norwegian grandmother always told me how much I reminded her of her mother. I have no memory of ever meeting great-grandma Mary, who died the summer before I turned 4 years old. However, her hand-sewed quilt hangs on my living room wall; one of my most treasured possessions. I also enjoy quilting, but I like making the tops, not so much the finishing. Turns out, Mary was the same way, and had many quilt tops left unfinished. The one I have was actually finished by my mother, as it was made for my dad. That gives it a little more history and love, and those roots and connections grow it even deeper into my heart.
The similarities don’t end there though. Mary loved her garden and her chickens. I am a Master Gardener with a flock of 16 pet chickens. But Grandma said my personality was much like Mary’s. I’m a happy-go-lucky soul with a huge imagination. I love laughing and joking around with people. I am an optimist, a true optimistic realist. I truly believe in the potential of humanity. I believe that most people are more good than bad. I believe that all people are deserving of the same rights, and love, and help; with no regard to their color, sexuality, shape, or background. I truly believe that God made each one of us to be someone with a passion, with a mission, and with a heart made of love.
What are some of your traits? What are the things you would love to know about your family tree? Who do you take after, if you know? Are you a curious person too? I’d love to know!