Finding the Wild Places

I am writing this post on Earth Day, 2024.* Did you know that Earth Day was established in 1970 by then-President Richard Nixon? I did not know that. And not to get political, but that is a great demonstration that man is multifaceted and that both good and bad can come from the same human. Rather than go into that here, I will write a separate post about the Shadow Self someday.

Rachel Carson, who wrote Silent Spring, caught the world’s attention in 1962, highlighting the dangers of the pesticide DDT, noting that in killing nature (that’s what pesticides do), we were affecting the web of life, and we are a part of that web. So, we were, in fact, harming ourselves. Nothing puts an exclamation point on what she said in that book more than the fact that she died of breast cancer in 1964.

And on that note, what I came here to write seems particularly poignant. Immediately before writing this, I read Heather Cox’s newsletter about Earth Day, which included the facts I used as a lead-in.

As you may know, I have just gone through a move. I’m not really out of it, but I’m out of the pressure of a deadline because I am moving in, not out, at this point. There is still a lot to do, but all in good time.

Yet, I say that, and I am still struggling to get back to a routine with a house still in disarray. But one thing I have integrated into my days because my doggie needs it (there is no backyard running around in this new place) is to take Buddy on walks.

Glen Ellen, where we live, was built on an old golf course. Part of it was left as open space, with walking trails along the old cart paths. And there also are, I found, some offshoot trails. Unfortunately, those offshoots are filled with ticks, which are either here to protect the wild spaces or just an uncontrolled parasitic species (sort of like us humans). There is usually an ebb and flow to species, with the predators catching up to the food supply, then dying off once they’ve reduced the population and there isn’t enough food to go around. A which point, the prey population starts increasing once again.

[Anyhow, I hate ticks. They spoil forest walks these days. And I just “squirreled” after this previous paragraph, looking up what animals were tick predators. There are a lot of them, but they are all generalists, so they eat other things besides ticks and are not that effective at reducing the tick population. So, light-colored clothing, my natural bug spray, and tick checks for me in this new tick-infested world.]

The bottom of the sign reads, “A cooperative effort between Regency at Glen Ellen and Town of Millis Conservation Commission.”

This sign is at the beginning of the hiking trail entrance from inside the condo complex (I haven’t been to the public entrance yet, but I’m sure they have something similar). It’s like entering a wild place where I’ve found my dandelions and birds singing, and there are ponds, trees, fields, and woods. It’s a whole ecosystem. The wild is reclaiming a golf course. Golf courses are notorious for using lots of chemical controls. Think of it. All that manicured grass. Not natural at all.

Speaking of which. I now have no control over my lawn because it is not maintained by me (us). And I’ve seen those warning lawn treatment signs posted in areas of the community. I keep Buddy off those lawns, and from what I read in the Master Deed, this place supposedly uses an integrative pest management policy. But we were given a policy sheet on lawn control in our welcome packet, which now makes me doubt that. Once I’m more integrated here, I’m going to pursue this. I mean, look at that sign; we are smacking up against conservation land. And we have a drainage pond in the back of the townhouses adjacent to us. It drains silt, and it is monitored by the conservation commission to make sure it is working before giving a final sign-off. So, I am getting mixed messages about the land management.

As I was mulling this all over when walking on the trails, happy that this part of the golf course was reclaiming its wildness, I felt/heard that at least the non-natural things happening in the condo community were in a controlled area. I don’t know if that is just wishful thinking on my part or if it’s an actual message from the land, which would be comforting if the land felt like this was okay-ish.

The other evening, as I brought Buddy out front for a last pee (once they get grass established in the back, I will be bringing him out that way to the edge of the forest to do his business), I noticed the lit houses and the solitary street lamp on the corner (that shines down, to help with light pollution). I also could see the moon and stars, which someone noted I wouldn’t be able to see anymore once I moved out of town. Maybe I don’t see as many stars as in the darker skies of Princeton, but there were still plenty. I feel comforted to be back in suburbia, with community around us. And, when I look out my back windows, we have privacy and are a stone’s throw away from the woods. This place is a real gift to me, with community in the front and wildness in the back.** We are nestled in the woods in this part of the community, and I love it.

In the gallery below, there is an image of a stream with skunk cabbage growing in it. This reminds me of my childhood in Winchester when I explored the wild places behind the baseball fields. So, while my brother was playing baseball, I was climbing trees and exploring the woods that had this same type of stream adorned with skunk cabbage. (And I was not the only wild child doing so.)

This move keeps reinforcing itself as a good one.

*I finished this post the day AFTER Earth Day. I started it during my granddaughter’s nap and never got back to it.

** We live in a “mullet” community—”business in the front, party in the back!

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