Lands on the Margin

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Have you ever driven by a particularly wide ditch and seen folks sitting on five-gallon buckets, fishing poles in hand, looking down the cattails and tules? Have you ever driven by a car parked precariously upon a levee, and slowed down instinctively because a kid may come running out from behind it? Have you ever driven by an untilled, fallow corner field at the edge of some great city and wondered, "What are they going to do there?" Or saw a large refrigerator, it's door still attached, sitting on the side of the field, and thought, "What kind of person does it take to do that?!?"

Or, perhaps, you've parked that car on the levee, and sat your child down next to you with a cooler full of sandwiches and drink boxes and maybe a soda? Maybe you've stood up and turned that bucket around that you were sitting on, dipped some water into it, and threw your bluegill or carp into it? Maybe you've driven by that untilled field and glimpsed a big ol' tom turkey strutting his stuff at the far end and thought, "I wonder who owns this field... can I just walk on and hunt it?" Perhaps you drove out there to pick up somebody else's refrigerator and take it to the dump, or at least pull off the door, wondering, "What kind of person would endanger my kids like this?"

If you are either of these people, then this blog is for you (if you are the person leaving the refrigerator, PLEASE go and pick it up, then come back and read this blog).

I grew up on these lands. I learned to love nature and the outdoors, to hunt and fish and track and birdwatch with my Dad and Mom on just these parcels, little places still un-"developed", huge tracts of free forest land and grassland, corner lots without houses, edges of water treatment plants, county parks.

Over the years, I've seen some amazing things on these lands, some of them horrible, and some of them beautiful. For example, these...

are the same place.

I have grown up on these marginal lands, marginal because they occur on the edges of farms, industries, and cities, marginal because they physically, poetically represent the economic concept of marginal utility, marginal because they cater to and provide for many who would otherwise not have these experiences, folks on the margin. Through them I developed a patriotism that includes, as a right, free and public lands. I have also developed a sense of ownership and responsibility, through my parents' examples, to these lands.

This small space on the internet, therefore, I humbly dedicate to these humble lands, places where kids can still go to learn about wildlife and the outdoors, where first generation folks can come to fish for dinner, where retired couples can stroll along and catch glimpses of rare species. Hopefully, through photographs and some writing, folks can build a stronger appreciation for and desire to protect these spaces, like they do our grander and more majestic public places.

What I've compiled here are ideas about the gear, tips & tricks, and some of what you might find on California's edgelands, her marginal lands.  I've also given a space for you to tell stories about your marginal lands.  If you are interested, please visit one of the pages below:

Useful Plants of California's Edgelands (with tips, tricks, and seasons).

Marginal Recommendations:  Gear and equipment for California's Edgelands (fishing, hunting, hiking, etc., gear occasionally reviewed).

The Lands on the Margin blog (I've found it easier to just post over there and link via Agrarianista).

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