Junk in the Woods

Many of the “wild” places where I walk here in upstate NY are re-claimed so to speak. They were once logged or mined or most often farmed. Then one way or another the lands are acquired by public or private conservation organizations. After that either nature is allowed to have it all its own way or areas are managed for wildlife habitat or bio-diversity or whatever.


Walking there now among the tall trees, the sunny meadows of weeds and wildflowers, and the running streams, I sometimes forget that it wasn’t always this way. In reality very few if any of the wild areas in my neck of the woods have managed to avoid some sort of direct human influence at one time or another. I’m reminded of this whenever I stumble onto the remains – tumbled down building foundations, the rusting hulks of old cars and trucks, bridge piers, or abandoned farm equipment.

Hay RakeI used to be annoyed at this kind of thing intruding on my fantasies of the forest primeval and hurry past them, but lately I find myself stopping to examine these relics more closely and to photograph them.

 I’m not talking about that ugly infuriating trash that I find all too often – beverage cans and bottles (alcoholic and otherwise), food wrappers, articles of clothing, pots and pans, etc.. The kind of stuff that people dump in the woods for no better reasons than sloth, ignorance, and disrespect for others. That’s just vandalism.

I’m talking about old relics that once served a legitimate purpose in this place, but due to accident, carelessness, or just the ravages of time they have become part of the scene. They have weakened and broken down – rusted and collapsed. Trees and vines have grown in their cracks and crevices. They are literally rooted in place now. Insects and animals have built homes inside the twisted wreckage.

CarSome of this junk could probably be removed – cleaned up. Most of the big stuff it is too entrenched now. It would be too costly and destructive to haul it out from among the trees. So it sits season after season while nature gnaws on it like an old bone.



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