The common man thinks of wilderness in terms of epic landscapes, fierce predatory fauna, untouched tracts of land, and inhospitable mountains, or maybe something more humble like a boreal trail through the forest of his own memories of times spent camping on silent occulted lakes, and off lost hunting highways. Rarely though is wilderness associated with the small and subtle details of the natural features that mostly likely surround the modernized domestic man in his environment. When one looks to the patches of old growth left on the world, it is probably the purest symbol of wildness will young plantations left to go feral, standing broadleaf timbers on country roads, and fringe zones surrounding so many cities and towns across the continent have remnants of the past, and micro-ecosystems in place that can easily be appreciated, only on a different scale, one more easily seen with the naked eye up close than with a telescope or binoculars.
This scope of the wilderness may seem far fetched at first but as a seasoned traveler, and having some merit in the world of wilderness exploration, then returning to a more domestic lifestyle, (read: domestic meaning of the domecile or home), and prospecting the land for small pockets of intact wilderness, a lot of rich and impressive life can be found. They are the simple and overlooked phenomena; the lanky squirrels digging up old protein stores from before the winter, the first fungal growths on sogging wet pine logs, the litter of black oak acorns left unharvested after the thaw, the first saplings starting the race for the sol of the sun, the fuzzy branchlets of virgin trees, or the small game, that would be so perfectly snared for a spring feast. I am coming to notice the local weather very intimately, the time of the first thaw, and when the lake finally loses its ice cover. I feel the light increasing just a couple minutes each night, and its so beautiful. I admit to having traditionally being a big nature, big game kind of guy. I craved the open, massive spaces, and always will. Yet, there is a cognitive difference in the perception of these spaces, as they usually stand on their own as a kind of thing to be observed. Only few look at such a landscape and think about the individual valleys which may hide watersheds, the high crests where the experienced hunter can glass out for whitetail deer, or the possibility of springs and rivers from which to harvest wild water. It is in the micrositing of the large epic land masses that we see and experience the almost overwhelming beauty in its intimate refinity.
I think there is a particular kind of affirmation in seeking out this tracts of wild spaces anywhere and everywhere, because it is easy to feel you are cut off from the wilderness when you live in a city, or even temporarily staying in one, but I believe separation is a kind of illusion and is just put on us. I would urge people to get out and discover these microsites that might just alter their day, or their conscious perception of where they live and try to identify as many species of life that dwell there, which animals make their home in the trees or the ground? Which mushrooms latch onto the rotting logs? What plants seems edible?
This is just something I wanted to bring to the fore, as my priorities change from a life of constant travel, wildlands seeking, nomadic backpacker lifeway, into a more rooted, and bioregional style of thriving existence.