By Andrea M. Jones
Although no longer meant as a handbook for landowners, Between city and Wild still bargains worthwhile and interesting views at the realities of settling and dwelling in wild setting. all through her ongoing trip of being domestic, Jones’s shut observations of the land and its local population are paired with the recommendation that even small landholders can act to guard the future health in their houses. Her short meditations trap and honor the subtleties of the wildlife whereas illuminating the significance of operating to protect it.
Probing the contradictions of a way of life that burdens the wellbeing and fitness of the land that she loves, Jones’s writing is permeated through her light, earnest conviction that dwelling on the urban-wild interface calls for us to put aside self-interest, reflect on compromise, and regulate our expectancies and habits—to accommodate our environment instead of strength them to house us.
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In high-country meadows, melting snow reveals last year’s grasses, ironed hard to the ground. Pressed down for months by the icy residue of blizzards, the fibers are draped across the contours of the land like wet silk. The layers of thatch are lifted from below only with great effort; it takes weeks for pale new growth to nudge its way through and lend a green tint to mountain clearings. Long before the leaves bud out in willow thickets along streams swollen with runoff, rising sap colors the whiplike stems with startling shades of bright yellow, russet, mahogany, and livid red.
I wipe my nose on my shirt one more time and walk slowly downstairs. With trepidation, I pick up the binoculars and look briefly at the owl. It’s looking back at me, and I lower the glasses with a burning emotion that feels like shame. The owl ruffles and preens, and a few minutes later it flies away. The nuthatches are finally quiet, and I collapse in a chair. I’m exhausted and pass the rest of the evening in a daze, as if it were my skull and not the owl’s that had crashed into a hard illusion.
The chunk of granite on which I’m 26 lay of the land perched sits under a power line: four heavy gray cables carrying pulses of electric traffic along a route punctuated by weathered and bird-pecked poles. These are merely the more contemporary, and thereby more obvious, signs that humans occupy the area. You have to look a little closer, get down beneath the tree canopy, to discern the older evidence. Dozens of old mining roads crisscross the slopes around me, terraced onto the hillsides with low stacks of local stone.