Saturday, April 28, 2012
More Land Posting Keeps Foragers Out
What a letdown. What a sad commentary upon our culture…or lack thereof. I went out to pick fiddleheads this week and found no less than three of my favorite, old-time sites posted. You might ask why I don’t just call or visit the landowners and ask permission. It is certainly the thing to do. But I’m old. And I was brought up understanding something called, “permissive trespass.” That means that if land isn’t posted, anyone can legally venture upon it for whatever reason. So if someone nails one of those gross-looking yellow “posted” signs on every tree and telephone pole, that tells me that they don’t want me around. And I never was much of a one to stay where I wasn’t wanted. In my youth, few people ever posted their land. We all respected each other and it was simply understood that it was mean-spirited to put up those ugly yellow signs. It was demeaning toward the one putting up the signs. In my mind, it still is. I simply cannot like someone who does that. It’s a terrible thing, too, for me to feel that way and I admit it. But the old ways are gone. Things have changed and continue to change, and fast. It is certainly a landowner’s right to post, but so often people do it because they can, rather than because they need to. That needs re-stating. To post for no other reason than it is your right is just plain mean. There is just no other way around it. I was brought up in Mid-Coast Maine and now I feel as though it is no longer my home. Things have gotten that bad. I would move and am considering moving, but don’t know where I could go to find the old-time Maine way of life intact. Is it possible? I don’t know. Where can one go to find a place where people love their neighbors? Where is it that we still have respect for our fellows and welcome them rather than work to keep them at arm’s length? I still don’t know. But enough of this sad philosophizing. I called an old friend today, a friend with lots of land, a friend who does not post because he considers that a mean thing to do. And his land has lots of fiddleheads. I went and picked as many as I needed for myself and also, for the World War II veteran who I supply with fiddleheads each year. So there is still some good in this world. I apologize to my readers for harping upon this topic, but it has become so troubling. A way of life, a culture, is fast disappearing and in fact, is more alive in memory than reality. But old dogs have trouble changing their ways, and I’m surely an old dog of the Maine-woods type. So while my heart breaks every time someone new purchases and posts a beloved bit of wild land that I have roamed since my youth, I also see that it does little good to wallow in despair and longing for the old days. The old days are gone and will never return. We may as well expect our dead grandparents to arise from their graves as to think that things will go back to the way they were. So I, and we, must look to the future, to what remains. And plenty remains. We live in a vast, forested state and thankfully, various private groups are purchasing wildlands for posterity. I do think that land trusts and similar organizations are our greatest hope. By the way, when walking on my friend’s land, with permission, I got enough fiddleheads for myself and also, to give a heaping portion to my almost 90-year old American hero. So that’s good enough for me for the time being. May your days afield be filled with sunshine, warmth and a growing love and respect for the ways of our forbears and for our wonderful natural world.