BY MARGO FARNSWORTH | THE NEW TERRITORY ISSUE 02
I suppose I’ve always been a protector of wild places. As a child I was drawn to wild as jam is to toast – meant for it. Mounted on my most treasured Christmas present ever, an over-sized snowy Schwinn bicycle with pink pin stripes, I flew around our small Midwestern neighborhoods searching for terra nullius – no man’s land. That was where I belonged; felt welcome and sure of myself. No matter that the wild I found was a semi-wooded lot with overgrown dirt piles left over from neighborhood construction. I saw this place as a kingdom.
My pack of friends made up part of the population and served as self-appointed protectors. The other subjects included mulberry trees, a few scraggly cedars with hackberry sentries at the fore, and hundreds of other denizens smaller in stature, furred of foot and feathered of face. These creatures were the true citizens of The Trails, a simple name we gave to that plot beyond Main Street and Virginia Avenue, between tidy human neighborhoods.
They made their living there when our wheels rode west at night toward mothers shaking their heads over our dust-covered bodies and skewed pony-tails. We knew the animals were there by their tracks, left in the muddier open areas that flowed semi-connected like soda pop spilled across a Formica kitchen table. We sometimes found evidence of their digested dinners on the hilltops we connected as a Motocross course for our bikes. And when we dumped ass over teakettle, as we invariably did, we’d cast an eye across crushed acorns or hickory nuts on the rocky tables of their dining areas.