I walk trails, lands once
deforested, now green, thankful
my health is restored, that I can look
between the trees to see a buck
spying me between the trees on a swath
that once was a road cutting across hills
once clear-cut, now restored
and as beautiful as the view from a bluff
that looks back upon them. Looking back
seventy years, who thought farmland,
once depleted, could be so full of life?
Looking ahead seventy years, will this be
no more than a pocket of lost hope
in the wider expanse of some other world?
This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: VOYAGE TO THE OTHERWORLD, where Brendan says, “As with myth and dream, modernity has almost lost its Otherworld. The language of wonder and flight is paltry and dry. As the Earth becomes haunted of vanishing life, so the everteeming Ocean is a faded, seldom and flickering place. Change is inexorable; ghosts and monsters abound. But all is not done … Getting to the Otherworld is a voyage of equal parts doubt and faith.” He asks, “What help is there, in these immodest, shrinking and fuming times? Can we still hear the call, can Otherworld sails still trim, do islands still wait for us above the waterline across the main? And what does the Otherworld dream of a world such as we wander today?”
Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated the area that is now the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It has been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The photo above is from my November hike on the Cedar Creek Trail. This section of the trail was once a country road that passed through farmland.