The early morning sun is too bright in my eyes.  I can barely see the ducks and cormorant I’ve disturbed as I walk out onto the icy dock.  I turn my back on the pond and the sun and let the heat penetrate my jacket.  The sun illuminates bright green cones of emerging Yellow Pond Lily pads sticking up in clusters near the shoreline.  Foraging ducks have already tattered their tips.  A robin in the 20-acre patch of forestland sings vigorously, not even stopping for air.  When I leave the pond to walk back to the nursery, a raccoon or some other creature with a big tail – I didn’t get a good look – clambers down from an old broken Pacific Yew.  These creatures have not a care for me except to stay out of my way.

 I’m grateful that my forebears – out of foresight or lack of ambition – left a small wild place behind.  To keep small and large wild places, it’s not enough anymore to count on the benevolent neglect of their owners.  If we are owners, we need to actively support our wild places – 20 acres or 20 square yards – and re-create wild spaces if we have over-civilized our land.  These places bring beauty and healing to humans, too.

We are all owners; even if you live in an apartment in the city, you own your city’s parks.  We all own vast tracts of state and federal forestland.  Private land or public, benign neglect is not enough to provide for wild places.  They need our help and protection.

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