Saturday, June 1, 2013

Universal Beauty and Marjorie

As I drove down the dirt road in the Osceola National Forest and parked along the side, I immediately noticed that I am not the only person who enjoys this remote location.  The seclusion is part of the allure, for myself, as well as others it seemed.  Recently dumped, scattered, and left, the road was carpeted with red shotgun shell casings and other remnants.  Garbage littered at least seventy five meters of the path.   I was overcome with a feeling of disgust.

I took to the trails I had intended to travel that afternoon, unable to deal with all of the garbage then.

When I returned, I dug out a plastic Target sack from my trunk and made my way down the road.  Over forty shotgun shells, a pair of neon orange ear plugs, numerous Gatorade bottles, water bottles mutilated with bullet holes, little cardboard boxes, and clay targets and their fragmented pieces overflowed and stretched the bag.

"The destruction seemed to me a symbol of private intrusion on the right of all mankind to enjoy universal beauty" (Cross Creek, 1996 edition, p. 378).

Their actions were selfish and disgusting.  They do not own the land, yet they treat it worse than if they did.  Over the last few pages of Cross Creek, Marjorie discuss the ownership of land: "No man should have property rights over land who does not use that land wisely and lovingly" (Cross Creek, p. 379).  So then, why do some feel the need to treat land that is for all mankind in such a way?  That is what breaks my heart.  We've all seen a stray bottle here and there, but never have I encountered such a deliberate scene like this one, especially in a place that I have grown to cherish these last few months as I have learned the landscape.  It pains me to think that these people got some sort of thrill from leaving their mark in the forest.


As it is National Trails Day, I hope that you can get out and enjoy the paths and maybe even have the opportunity to do good.  I suppose that is the thing to take away from this.  There are plenty of people who do not respect the land, but I know many more who do.
"We know only that a sense of well-being sweeps over us when we have assisted life rather than destroyed it.  There is often an evil satisfaction in hate, satisfaction in revenge, and satisfaction in killing.  Yet a wave of love takes over a human being, love of another human being, love of nature, love of all mankind, love of the universe, such an exaltation takes him that he knows he has put his finger on the pulse of the great secret and the great answer" (Cross Creek, p.377).

Marjorie continues to impress me with her words.  Stumbling upon beautifully accurate phrases like this and moments like this somehow still surprises me.  It shouldn't, but I am glad I am still discovering new bits of wisdom from Cross Creek.


  1. It breaks my heart too when we come across litter in the wild. Apalachicola NF had some trashy areas, particularly at off-road forest crossings. Very frustrating indeed! There's nothing like trying to take a photo of something only to find later there was a random Coke can in the way. (I'm looking at your creeks and streams!)

  2. It frustrates me that all of that trash will just sit there unless someone comes along to pick it up. I think I am going to make a habit of keeping more plastic sacks in my car, for my dirty post-run clothes and for garbage that I come across.

  3. Your blog is awesome, like seriously! If you want, I would love it if you marked some of your posts on it's an effort to collaborate all outdoor adventures on a map to help other people research and plan their next trip for a specific location. Your blog posts would be a wonderful addition for others to see!

  4. Was going through my blog feed and saw your blog and realized it had been eons since you posted. Found your art gallery site---wow, awesome work! Do you sell your prints or originals? Hope life is treating you well.