Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Low-Spectacle Adirondack Wilderness

Reading this passage (from a book borrowed from the BK sidewalk library) about the majority of the Adirondack Parkland makes me want to lunge for my copy of the Tao. In the essay, the not-so-dramatic landscape that no doubt filters our city's exceptional water is played off the image of "the matrix of human desire," a contrast worth teasing out for all its philosophical and aesthetic implications.
This is not rocks and ice and wildflower-meadow wilderness– this is swamp and spruce thicket and mile upon mile of hardwood forest and hemlock-height wilderness, thousands of mountains too short to be bare on top, never climbed by people because there's no reason, except maybe venison, to climb them. Even the hunters don't reach a lot of places–someone killed a bear last season that the biologists said was forty-two years old. It had been hiding out since the Truman administration. It's the kind of country where no one got around to naming a lot of things–there are whole small ranges of anonymous mountains, and pond after pond called "Mud" or "Round" or "Fish." Where instead of sweeping views you get strained glimpses through the lattice of bare branches. It's all curves and circles, dimples and bulges, woods that just go on and on and on.You see what the world must once have looked like.

Bill Mckibbens
, 1994. "Wild Again" Heart of the Land, The Nature Conservancy.

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