Thursday, December 8, 2011

You only have one chance

You only have one chance to experience a place as wilderness.  Returning to that spot, it will never be the same, it will always be a reunion. 

The first time I came to the farm, S. asked me if I wanted to look around and I responded, "no, this will do just fine."  I walked much of the land before looking at any way of not peeking under the gift wrapping, but instead preserving the discovery for a time when I would be standing amongst it.  As time goes on, I create my own stories for what I find, the squatter's cabin being the best example.  I think out loud and share my theories on who might have built it.  This is where I differ from the scientists that I've worked with.  They do not have that luxury, their facts and conclusions are up for peer review.  While my creations are up for peer review as well, they need not be facts. A friend of mine coined what I do as "personal geography" - as good a description as any.  I map what interests me, I collect what I find - but I find what interests me, and I am particularly good at filtering out disturbances that do not count, in my mind.  I can create my own wilderness even in places that are no longer wild.

S. is at the farm today and sheds a bit more light on the squatter's cabin.  But, he is clearly careful not to ruin any surprises for me.  The cabin was attached to a mining claim, but both of us acknowledge that that does not mean any mining took place.  It does not, in my mind, look like something a prospector would build.  But, if there was a claim, there might be a record, and a record would have a name.

I head out to collect another piece of wood.  This one takes on mystical qualities.  It was almost unmovable two days ago.  Today, I can lift one end with just fair effort.  Then, as I trundle it towards the road, I need to adjust it, and once again, I cannot so help me lift it.  I sit back and wonder how to get out of the fix.  With no brain solution, I go back and pick the end up without much trouble.  When the time comes, it drags me on my ass, quite unapologetically, to the bottom of the hill.

I return to retrieve my pack and tools and finding sun penetrating the forest, I take time to sit up against a cedar for awhile, glad to have brought a thermos of coffee out.  I am tempted to sit here until the sun goes away.  But, curiosity takes me to the last piece of wood, one that I only noticed two days ago as it is partially buried.  I load it up.  When the time comes, it drags me fully out of control to the bottom of the hill.

Out of gas, I rest in the sun, and then go and walk the creek, this day taking the far side.  There is a lot of beaver and deer sign.  They like the same trees - the beaver cut down a cottonwood, the cottonwood sprouts a hundred shoots, the deer come and eat the shoots.  It looks like the beaver are coming to the creek overland from the river as most of beaver sign is on the river side of the creek (the creek parallels the river through much of the farm).

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