Beyond the fence lay the wilderness. A vast, dense forest primordial in its nature. Uncut and unexplored. Towering ancient trees, untouched by human hands. At least that’s how it seemed from this side of the fence.
The house is in a small in town subdivision. There are neighboring houses on either side of this one, and across the street. But in the back…the wilderness. The fence may have been erected to keep the prying eyes of neighbors out. But for my purposes, it was there to keep the doggie in.
Left unattended, nature will eventually overtake anything man has created. And an untamed wilderness was proving to be the nemesis of the fence. Large trees were standing very close to it. And their trunks and roots were pressing against the timbers of that divider. Nature was winning the battle and slowly pushing on the fence and tearing it apart. It needed repair, and salvation. Which meant I needed to go to the other side of the fence. Into the wilderness.
It was going to take what would seem to be an around the world journey to get where I needed to go. The fence was a solid wall. No gate. There was no way to tunnel under it. And it was too tall to climb over. I would have to go to the far side of the wilderness, and trek through its entirety, back to the fence.
From the road the forest looked deep and densely covered in underbrush. But there was a narrow path that had been started. Judging by the piles of yard debris on either side of this path, I decided that the neighbors had been dumping the cut grass and fallen tree limbs from their yards into the forest. Breaching the outer layer of the frontier. I wondered if anyone had ever ventured deeper.
I gathered an assemblage of hand tools for cutting brush and tree limbs. Machete, hand saw, loppers, and pruning sheers. I armed myself with a bottle of water to fight off dehydration. And I entered the jungle.
I was dismayed to see almost immediately that there had indeed been other explorers. Not because I wasn’t the first, but because they had broken a cardinal rule: leave nothing but footprints. There was a paper towel laying on the forest floor. Filled with I don’t know what. As I pressed further I came upon a dumping ground. A collection of old glass bottles. Mostly broken and worthless. Why would this be here I wondered? Something for further exploration at a later date.
Advancing further toward my goal I encountered a lot of little things that indicated human presence. Old paint buckets. Large pieces of concrete that would have been used in constructing a sewer system. Looks like when the neighborhood was built about twenty years ago the builders had taken their leftovers and dumped them in the woods. May have been a thinly wooded field back then.
There were a lot of bits and pieces of plastic that looked like they were leftover from landscapers planting shrubs and trees. Just throw it into the woods. Cheaper than the landfill.
I finally reached my destination and went to work. I came upon the remnants of an old fence. Had this land all once been a farm? Probably so. Four hours later I had finished clearing a small area behind the fence. There were still trees growing up too closely, but I had eliminated the dead ones that had fallen, and the vines and junk shrubs that were overtaking it. The trees would require professional assistance. Another day.
Headed back to my exploration vehicle I came across some other bizarre artifacts which I hadn’t seen on my way into the woods. Leaning up against a tree stood a swimming pool ladder. Starting to rust but in pretty good shape. I shook my head in wonderment. An old tire. Who would roll one old tire deep into the forest? But what I encountered next blew me away. There was a primitive structure. A campsite. Some one had built a conical shelter using logs and timbers. And they had covered it with a green tarp.
That reminded me of my days as a child when we would go into the woods and build forts on the ground, under the ground, and in the trees. We were pirates. And explorers. Cowboys and soldiers. And we could entertain ourselves endlessly just being in our fortress. This one looked like it had been abandoned. But it was definitely of human and modern origin. A vast civilization had once thrived in these woods.
Now it’s just a vacant lot, unattended by its owners, waiting for someone to come in and develop it. Cut down all the trees and build something.
There are still places on the Earth that are awaiting man’s first entry. The depths of the oceans and the peaks of isolated mountains. But we humans have pretty much covered it all. And with us we took our imagination, our hopes and dreams, ambitions and indomitable spirit. And what have we left behind? Many amazing things. But in this particular forest, just a lot of trash. And the shattered dreams of an optimistic explorer.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?