Horizon at Sandy Point

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Taking back the wild

Look, where I living used to be a quarry. So they say. But to see it now, you wouldn't know that until you get down to the soil itself, loose limestone and uneven shale-y pits and cracks where the cobos still like to hang out. On first exploration, it seemed to be a dry gorge; but as time passed, we realized that no river ever carved these boulders and rocks left so haphazardly. The birds of course should have been a giveaway. Why would cobos seek out almost impenetrable underbrush to roost. It seems reasonable to conclude that the birds used to hang out here when it was bare rock - as they do on top the active quarry on the other side of this same hill - and continued to do this even as the trees in the gorge were growing. Now most of them are over 50 feet tall. These days, the cobos fly into the gorge crashing through small branches. We hear the purposeful beat of their wide wings, their squabbles. Who knows what else takes refuge down there? This flank of the northern range sees agouti and iguana, manicou, frogs, tarantulas (lots of spiders) and thousands of insects.

In the five years since we discovered the old quarry gorge, the fast growing bois canot and bois flot have completely masked the ground. Some of these trees must be over 60 feet tall, growing straight up. A couple other trees may be over 100 feet, their spreading branches sheltering other birds, epiphytes, vines and "spirits taking back the land."

So there's hope for all our quarried places yet. And there's hope for change in human hearts. It doesn't take long for land to be reclaimed by forest. All we have to do is get out of the way.

To see how others are working to re-forest exhausted mines and desert landscapes, google Eden Projects or go to

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