Following the Wild Edge
a collection of stories from shifting terrain
Look to the edge.
Look to the place where places meet. Look beyond, into the unknown, and look back to what’s come before, and remain at the edge. This is where the magic happens. Here at the shore, or the river, or the fringe of the woods, something mystical flows, and she is beckoning.
Go out to the end of the road, and keep walking. Find that sacred place tucked into a pocket between railroad tracks and old buildings. Find that patch of earth where life finds every way to make herself known, and grown. It’s in your backyard, it’s in the city parks and along the streets, it’s along the banks of the creeks and rivers, and it’s along the shorelines, and in the fields and gardens, it’s in the mountains, the clouds, the sky, the very fabric of space and time… and this wildness is in you, too, and in me.
I’ve spent the last several years seeking out these places at the edge, and returning again and again. Certain spots have drawn me more than others, and some of these places I’ve returned to hundreds of times. I’ve spent ten and twelve hours at a time out at the shore, with notebook and camera, going out at high tide and low tide, morning and noon and midnight, in the rain, the snow, the sun, beneath dawns and sunsets and gleaming stars, and each time it is both familiar and new, and there is something of a relationship being formed. Each visit is a conversation, and with a host of other beings, bird and plant and rock and wave pattern, and now a sailboat passes by, and my eye is drawn across the water to the port where they are loading up thousands of logs onto a cargo ship; and my eye is drawn back to this side of the water, to the old ruined railroad tracks… and back to the beating heart of the ground, and here this little plant, st. john’s wart, she is growing up through a crack in the pavement, and blooming yellow.
Each hour spent with the shore, or the river, or the woods, is an hour in apprenticeship with mystery. There are certain things which cannot be explained by the rational mind, and these moments are what it’s all about. Sometimes it’s a subtle understanding, a learning something about the way a certain wind makes certain ripple marks on the water… sometimes it’s a smack in the face: suddenly a river otter appears just five feet away, and she looks at you for an instant before disappearing, and in that instant your whole world is transformed, and you can see newly.
These encounters are numerous, once you put yourself out there and open. I’ve collected so many of these moments that I’m beginning to feel heavy-laden. I need to begin putting them out on the page, offering them to the collective. This is too much magic for one man to hold alone.