"I believe that our souls are formed in the idleness of youth, and it is then, when our time is unstructured and unmeasured, that we know ourselves to be at one with the essential wisdom of the world. When I was seven, I roamed the hillsides and the meadows, aware that the world around me was engaged in an endless cycle of renewal. I went to my birch grove, certain that the land would accept all my loves and disappointments and receive my childhood joys and tragedies as it received all other living things. It was the earth that gave me my first sense of communion and I felt that my best, my truest self was connected to a few square miles of land.

"When I was twelve, my family moved from the country to the crowded suburbs of New Jersey, and I felt we had done the unforgiveable — we had left behind the place that supported us and gave us everlasting life. There were no more rose bushes or rows of irises and hollyhocks. I could no longer pick apples from our yard or run down the road to get fresh eggs from the neighbor's farm.

"Years later, I realized that the land is always with us. The world as we first knew it remains imprinted on the body and the brain like tiny fossils embedded in a piece of shale. As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself-consciously to the soughing of the trees. We are continually articulating the intelligence of the planet, which has grown up through all the species. The whole earth lives within us, and in every moment, we are both its creators and discoverers. We only need to reawaken all these early memories."