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 of this remote part of the park is part of the allure, for myself, as well as others it seemed. Recently dumped, scattered, and left, the road was freckled 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.
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.
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).
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