When I was a kid, there was a forest right beside our house. This was in the middle of suburbia, mind you, but they hadn’t gotten around to building there yet, so lots of big beautiful trees still made magic of the place, a kid’s paradise.
I made friends with the wildlife: birds, frogs, porcupines, foxes, salamanders, mice… and the neighbors often brought me orphaned or injured animals to take care of because I was always willing and had a fair degree of success with them.
I always loved to run through the woods and play adventure games, ala Cowboys and Indians, Star Trek, or Twilight Zone, with my cousins, friends, and various neighbor kids. In the fall, there’d be piles of leaves to toss around in and slide on. When I had parties, one of the things we particularly liked to do was go hiking in the moon-lit woods.
And no, our parents didn’t worry about it all that much. This was in the days before the milk carton kids became a thing. Heck, people didn’t even lock their front doors in those days. Parents didn’t worry about their kids being outside out of sight all day until they actually missed super. It was THAT relaxed a lifestyle. Not like today’s state of constant parental and personal paranoia over everything. I wasn’t afraid of much either.
I can recall climbing up old pine trees via toe and finger holds in the thickly crenelated bark and stubs of once-branches until I got to the actual branches. It was usually about 15 to 20 feet off the ground that I’d be settling onto a branch that spread out like a magic carpet floating and gently swaying in the summer breeze and there open up whatever book I’d carried up in my pocket to read.
Ha… a partial list of these books would the Narnia Chronicles, The Back of the North Wind, A Wrinkle in Time, White Fang, Trouble in Fez, The Box Car Children, The Time Machine, Shining Through, The Diary of Anne Frank, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Wind & the Lion, Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Yellow Eyes, Chariots of the Gods, Oliver Twist, Mary Queen of Scotts, A Thousand & One Arabian Nights, Black Beauty, Jane Eyre, Squanto, A Girl Named Sooner, On the Night of the Seventh Moon, From Time to Time, Race Against Time, Heidi, The Little Dikkado…
Do you see a pattern? because, in retrospect, there is one; a strong one. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it’s been the light on my path all along.
Another favorite game we all played in the forest was building forts or villages. We’d build tepees out of sticks, sometimes plastered with mud and leaves, or lodges out of fallen pine branches, tree houses, dug outs roofed in boards or fallen trees, or make due with hollow stumps or full trees, usually singed big red cedar left over from a long ago forest fire. The edges of the paths between we’d always decorate with white stones. And there we’d share snacks and stories and “let’s pretend” adventures.
I was naive enough to think it would be okay to live that way someday for real if I wanted to. We should be able to, it seems to me, but the corporations own everything.
Some people don’t make it according corporation rules. They don’t have the skills or aptitude to be employed that way or, if they are employed, earn enough to actually live on. They have to choose between food or shelter. Sometimes neither is an option and they end up begging. Or they’re burdened by addictions that end up making them undesirable, unemployable, and dangerous as well. That last is their own fault, but the former shouldn’t even be a problem to them or anyone else.
Why does each and every single piece of land need to be owned by and profitable to some corporation? The fact of the matter is, though every piece of land is somehow owned, not all of it is actually being used. Yet heaven forbid and indigent build their own shelter there, having failed to survive the corporate world and wanting to just make it on their own. The police or sheriff or forest rangers will come along, drive them out, and tear down their shelter.
What is a homeless person supposed to do when they don’t want to go to a shelter or can’t because it’s too full? Why are normal, harmless, survival tactics being forbidden them? I mean, I get it if they’re encroaching on the personal space of others, leaving garbage around, being threatening, or just a nuisance, but what if they retreated from suburbia or the city and formed their personal spaces in the forests or fields. If land isn’t already being used for something else, why not allow the homeless to build their camps the or maybe even tiny house villages? Why should anyone mind that? Let them grow or forage their own food, make little communal farms or something? Shouldn’t there be an option like this available to those who don’t make it according to the rules and restrictions of larger society? Why penalize or restrict them?
Just asking. At heart, I’m still the kid who built forts in the forest and thought it would be okay to live there if I really wanted to.