At this time of the year, before the snow starts piling up and when most of the cabins are unoccupied, there’s a narrow window of opportunity for cutting across the land. I don’t consider it trespassing, especially since I’m following in the path of the old-timers here.
It feels like freedom, like being set loose from a narrow path. I can follow my curiosity and instinct down long driveways, fairly confident that I won’t find someone sitting on their front porch on these 30-degree days. In the process, I’ve discovered new views of Mount Meeker, old cabins and outhouses tucked in the trees, and the creek running below a small cliff. Once I discovered an old log cabin that looked to be from the 19th century, the kind an old miner or trapper would have lived in alone.
I know it’s the human condition to buy and demarcate a small piece of land as your own, to put up fences or, worse, “no trespassing” signs. But to ignore the signs, step around the barbed wire and walk across open land feels like reclaiming the earth as it once was: no boundaries, no restrictions.
I often seen faint animal trails, usually to and from the creek. These trails follow the land's natural flow. When I walk across the land, I sense where to go, like some instinct leading me along—to the top of the hill, or a protective grove of trees, or a pond. I like to think I’m becoming more animal-like. Maybe like a bear sniffing its way around the ponderosas, looking for food; or a deer finding the softest carpet of grass to lie down in. Or a turkey searching through the grasses for seeds. Or a moose nosing its way through the willow thickets.
A local once told me that Boulder County thinks there shouldn’t be any homes or structures in Meeker Park, that the land should be returned to the way it was before humans came along—to the elk and deer, the bears, the bobcats. No driveways, no houses, no fences, no outhouses or piles of wood. Part of me is drawn to that idea, to returning the land to some wildness, but there’s the other part that wants to be part of the wildness.
On the other side of the valley is a trail that goes to the top of the mountain. When I walk the trail, I occasionally run into the owner of the property, who never fails to remind me that his family owns all the land going to the top of the mountain, more than 40 acres.
It’s a thrill to own property, and I’m glad to own my one-third acre here, because it gives me a place in the world that I know is mine, that gives me some buffer from the rest of the civilization. I like the company of nature, and I wouldn’t live here if I didn’t believe nature and humans can co-exist. That requires some respect from humans for the natural world (no fences, no dogs running loose, no lawns!).
I know what I call “my property” is not really mine. I’m just sharing it temporarily with the animals, the trees, the grasses and the rocks. And my neighbors.