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THE SUN WAS SETTING as my backpacking group and I headed back to our campsite from Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

We walked in silence, falling into a rhythm. The march of our steps and crunching of dry earth beneath feet grounded me. I felt anchored between two worlds: the physical and the psychological. My feet moved forward while my mind wandered capriciously. One moment, my sight fixed on trees; the next, on ants moving along familiar terrain. The land was theirs as they wound to a location unknown to me.

Ants, I would come to learn, are cooperative insects, and this cooperation hinges on establishing a community of likeness. If an ant possesses the same pheromones as the colony it tries to join, it is freely admitted. Likeness and familiarity are the thread, a truth that exists for most of us. In my group, we were all women of color with a love for nature.  It promoted our collective agenda. I understood this as I lifted my head, seeing members zigzag along the dirt trail, wispy clouds of dust rising from our heels. We were one. TO CONTINUE

gender equity, womens history, WOMENS LIVES

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