My breath is the warm onshore breeze hissing through sawgrass,
The rattling clatter of autumn rushing down through the gnarled mountain rhododendron,
The slow summer exhale over fields of soybean and corn.
Winter winds falling all the way from snow-frosted mountains to the pluff-mud marshes.
My bones trace through stands of pine, red oak, and live oak, ancient and gnarled.
Through granite boulders and cliffs, high in the clear air,
Through rich, red clays and coastal loam.
My blood is black-water rivers, twisting through field and forest,
Deep lakes over drowned homes,
Tidal marshes, home to crab and heron,
And the salty edge of the Atlantic, eternally crashing on the shore.
I am rooted in the generations that lived and died,
Built and planted,
Where I go,
this land goes too.
When I finally rest,
This land will claim what remains.
It might be a cave.
Perhaps a pit,
A long, dusty hallway shrouded in deep shadow,
A door to a dark basement.
Whatever the shape
It will be dark.
Fears live best unseen.
You will be weary,
Tired to the bone.
Wobbling and weaving on shaking legs.
Fears feed on exhaustion
There will be reasons.
The whispering voices of experience and common sense.
Fears sound almost like truth.
Rest where you are,
In the tiny pool of light,
Listening to the whispers of reason.
Stride off into the dark woods,
Into the cave,
Down into the chasm,
Beyond the hill.
Daylight waits beyond the hill.
Stitch by stitch,
I’ve made my garment.
Stitch by stitch,
Layer by layer,
Armor made of fears,
Carefully gathered over a lifetime of hesitations.
Fear is wisdom paralyzed.
Stitch by stitch
Someone I respect saying things that are important.
Today, for International Women’s Day, I’m throwing my love for mud up on a shelf to talk about a broader and more impactful topic: being a young (female) professional in a STEM field. Yes, it can sometimes make you feel insignificant and powerless, but it can also spark up a fire of determination and sisterhood that will drive you to do great things.
As a young earth scientist, I have been told that I am not strong enough for the field work and that I should monitor what I wear so as not to tempt may male coworkers. At times I have thought of dropping out, not because I am not capable, but because I am often disrespected and objectified. But for those very reasons I have stayed in the field I love and am now surrounded by inspiring female senior scientists and extremely motivated, intelligent, and hardworking female…
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