Friday, June 6, 2014


Sometimes, when I take a look around me, I try to imagine what this place looked like before the advent of modern technology, before culvert pipes redirected water through the soil and telephone wires crisscrossed the blue sky and leafy backdrop like enormous spider webs to convey messages quickly from one point to the next. Objects like the transformer on top of the electrical pole or a blue reflector marker poking out of the earth seem incongruous, unwelcome and superfluous additions to the landscape and that, at times, just don't seem to belong here in this place where just about everything else simply evolved from where it stands. Even my truck, sitting in the middle of the yard, offends me some days, and I wish I could just erase it so that it wouldn't spoil the view.

The rock walls, however, are a different thing entirely. Yes, they were placed there in their particular configurations by human hands. But being of and from the earth, they fit, plainly and simply, into their biers of leaves leftover from years long before I arrived, nestled into the soil as though they've been there forever, a living chain trailing through the woods. I never cease to be amazed at the industriousness it took to construct them, and to how well they have stood the test of time, delineating boundaries between farms and pastures, many of which the woods have since reclaimed.

Having taken many walks deep into these woods, I'm aware that it wasn't always so easy to navigate them before someone decided to blaze paths and wear wheel ruts through the undergrowth. In some places, I can see how it could have taken days to cover just a few miles, tangled as they are with low growth and branches, the ground littered with dead trees in some places or too mucky and bug-infested to traverse in others. It doesn't take long for nature to reclaim what is hers, as I discovered having blazed my own path through the woods behind the shed a few years ago and that is now only visible from the marks I left on the trees there. A mere year's worth of fallen leaves is enough to obliterate a trail and to render it once again invisible to anyone who didn't know it was there.

I am most saddened, however, by the debris I find whenever I walk down the dirt road, which is a legal right of way to the properties closer to the pond. Empty styrofoam coffee cups, beer cans, and other trash litter both sides, and at the foot of my driveway across the road, there is what appears to be the remains of an old dump where I've found rusted pails, jars, bottles, and other crockery, intact or in pieces, that clearly date back to an earlier time. Many autumns have come and gone since then, effectively burying the cache, but a few items still poke up through the soil once the snow melts away each spring. Judging by the types of things I've found there, my guess is that the spot once served as a dumping ground for whatever the locals no longer wanted, and nature did them a favor by camouflaging their detritus.

At least it's not all that visible unless I'm actually looking for it, which I do at times just to see what new treasures the earth's heavings may have uninterred. Unlike the other unsightly obvious things that are not of these woods, I can conveniently forget that it's there, shifting my gaze rather to the hazy panorama that is this place at the height of summer.


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