Thoughts on Wildness

Inspired by family roots, East Fork's CEO builds an intentional container to deepen and sustain her connection to the wild.

Legend has it that Concepción Apodaca—my grandmother and my namesake—was the bareback wild horse riding champion of Chihuahua.  She could snatch up and toss any rattlesnake that crossed her trail with two sticks. She could turn a chicken upside down to look into its eyes and put it in a trance. Certainly, she could whisper-coo-sway-kiss-serenade any crying baby to sleep, and when she wanted to scare us for a laugh, could flip her eyelids inside out.

She herself was untamable. All of her was wild.

The way she ate: poking all ten fingers into an olive, a raspberry, to suck them off one by one; using front teeth to get at the sweet pink meat deep in the corner of the T-Bone; chewing slowly, eyes closed, swaying, long, deep moans of pleasure.

Various foods on East Fork plates in Fiddlehead green glaze

The way she sang: loudly, always, from the bottom of her belly.

The way she dressed: pointy shoes with glitter and rhinestones, ballooned dresses in puffy painted seashells, bright pink lipstick, baubles on every wrist, silks and organza and linen and pink and orange and green and blue.

The way she touched every fabric to her cheek at Macy’s. The way she tousled her hair all about. The way she smeared lipstick all over our pinched cheeks. The way she threw her head back. The way she belched and sneezed and gasped and snored. The way she wept—from love, from grief, indistinguishably. The way she thrust her body to and fro.  When my knee hurt, she said, hers hurt, too, because there really wasn’t any difference between us.  Because we were one in the same.

Connie Matisse standing at table outdoors, pouring wine

Wildness is the governing force of my soul and my ancestry and all efforts I’ve made to deny that have left me in a state of perpetual anxiety—specifically, the flavor of feeling trapped in a corner that emerges only inside the prisons of my own making. I've only just recently recognized that state of "feeling trapped" and understand its remedy: to let go fully to the experience of being flesh, bones, blood and soul at the whim of this wild and reckless world.

Connie seated at a window

In 2021, I worked with and through profound grief which rattled me up so hard that all those chains I’d wrapped around my neck and ankles broke free. The walls I’d built around myself came crashing down. Suddenly, I found myself alone in space, the keys in my hand.

Quiet interior at home with pillows and books

That grief gave me a gift, one I had hungered for. It wasn't just a fleeting feeling: it was a felt knowing that nothing lasts. That everything will go away.

This knowledge was my rewilding.

I try to build an intentional container—a practice if you will!—to deepen and sustain my connection to the wild. That looks like a lot of things, and I’m still pretty self-conscious to say them out loud. They sound so obvious!

  • Turning off my phone and putting it into my underwear drawer
  • Laying in the dirt at night to watch the sky
  • Smelling moss
  • Pushing my fingers into the soft dirt
  • Holding small, smooth rocks in my mouth
  • Climbing
  • Riding my bike
  • Listening to the night sounds
  • Building a fire
  • Hollering at the top of the mountain
  • Wading chest high into the winter river

Any time I’ve had any real moment of recognition that anything was bigger than myself it’s when I was in the wild: a place we can all return to and tap into within.

Pine trees in Flat Rock North Carolina

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"Wildness is the governing force of my soul and my ancestry."

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