I think I've always had a kind of inborn ability to see the world from a Deep Travel perspective; or if not always, at least from adolescence onward.  I have fragmentary memories from earlier in childhood that may be germane here, from trips I was taken on by my parents - whatever else they were to me, they were avid travelers - but those are not clear enough to me now.

The first complete Deep Travel experience I can recall came sometime in my high school years.  As the only child in a family headed by a rather strict and demanding father, I found my home life in suburban St. Louis oppressive and was moved to escape it by various means, including long walks through the neighborhood at night once I was old enough to be allowed out.

We lived in a section of St. Louis County that was in transition from farmland to suburbia while I was growing up.  Fields & marshy areas were cleared & drained, one after another, to make way for subdivisions.  The natural areas gradually shrank and became disconnected; the woods, streams, ponds, frogs & turtles that I knew as a young child disappeared.  That was the context.

Back to high school - one night I walked up the road we lived on much further than I had before, impelled by the warm air & moonlight.  (I don't recall the phase of the moon but it must have been near full; the night sky was clear and bright.)  I walked up to where our road ended at an intersection with a major thoroughfare; across that street was a church.  To the right of the church was a large vacant lot, not yet sold to the developers, still full of waist-high prairie grass or something like it.  I crossed the thoroughfare.  There was a dirt road that led along the edge of the grassy area; I walked on until I was far enough from the road not to be aware of the noise & headlights from the few cars that were out that night.

The air had been generally still, but breezes sprang up at that point.  In a moment, the whole field was swaying in long, slow ripples.  The effect was rhythmic and hypnotic under the bright moonlight.  I was transfixed; I felt everything drop away from me except for the sharp light from the sky and the swaying of the grassses.  I don't know how long I watched this magical scene; I lost my sense of time.  I had the feeling that the world was telling me something important right then, though I didn't quite know what it was.  I knew then that I would be seeking out such places, that could inspire similar moments, for the rest of my life.

Eventually the breezes subsided, the night became still again, and I came back to a more mundane sense of things.  A day or two later, I was driving by that area with a friend in the daylight; I stared hard at it, looking for some sign of the magic I'd experienced a few nights earlier, but found none.  My friend noticed me staring so intently & asked why, said I looked like I'd seen a ghost.  I said something to the effect that it was a nice place to walk, and that was that.

A few years later, the "vacant" area had become a mini-mall.  It's a familiar story in much of this country.  I feel privileged to have known that place when it was something else.