25 July 2008

A wilderness?

When I began this blog, I referred to my immediate boreal surroundings as a wilderness. That statement harks back to when I grew up, when the forest seemed more unyielding, mysterious, and of course also much larger, than it seems now. Its appeal had much to do with those factors. A trip into its shades was always loaded with anticipation. Would I come across any animals? Any plant species I hadn't seen before? Any path would do for exploration.

Today, the paths seem only well trodden. And not only by me. While the perceived size of the forest is reduced to the adult mind, the paths are wider than remembered. No wonder, perhaps, because there seems to be more people about. The human presence must have done something to the forest.

The attitude of the people I meet is different now. Thirty years ago was before the jogging wave, and fellow wanderers were more into relaxation through natural experience than into pure exercise. Fellow wanderers were always greeted with a smile.

Today I see only self-absorbed faces, some glistening with perspiration. Nobody says hello anymore, except me. I refuse to let go of that silly old courteousness, even to off-road bikers obviously detached from here and now by their MP3 players.

The geology in the area makes for interesting challenges to the bikers, but also limits the plant selection to hardy species not expecting much out of their soil. However, the species range seems smaller than it should be. I cannot recall the diversity from thirty years ago, of course, but I can compare to other areas of similar geology and climate. What's left in my local forest today are species enduring the frequent mechanical stress of humans stomping around. The more fragile ones are gone.

And even more pertinent, the forest is littered with empty soda bottles, plastic bags, and other human remnants. People use it like they would an urban public park. Maybe they're expecting gardeners to clean up after them, or just abandoning their stuff in want of a litter box. I just don't believe the joggers to run so fast they don't notice what they drop.

What's happened to the concept of responsability, I wonder. Probably evaporated along with the custom of greeting one another on the paths.

It's a sorry way to rediscover the places of childhood mystique.


Bruce Robbins said...

Hi Jostein,

It's Bruce Robbins here. Hope you don't mind me contacting you like this but I couldn't find an email address. I remember you giving me a mention in a post you wrote about keywording a while back. Care to share your experiences of microstock photography? Maybe we can learn something from each other. I'm at bruce(dot)robbins(at)homecall(dot)co(dot)uk

Bye for now,

Anonymous said...

I aways seems to me that if you are going to listen to your iPod, you might as well be on a treadmill. But my favorite modern trend is two lovers walking along holding hands, both of them talking to their friends on their cel-phones. I went out into the woods today, rode my bike, had a picnic, listened to a concert, and called a friend; what do I do with the other 23 and a half hours?