When I was taking pictures the other day I happened to notice my car sitting in the middle of the field as I trapsed back from a nice shot of a pile of rocks. It stuck me funny, somehow, like a collision of two worlds. That mechanical being seemed to have absolutely no relationship to the environment. It could have been dropped from outer space and not been any more alien. Homo sapiens has certainly had an impact on the earth that seems grotesque when you look at a picture like this one. There are acres and acres of beautiful land, as far as we can see in every direction, and all it takes is one Ford Tempo to visually ruin it all. How powerful we are. And how complicated the issue is, because those acres are not there to be visually beautiful. We, who ruin it, are the only species who appreciate its beauty, or even have a concept of beauty as far as we know. If we created beauty, certainly we ought to be able to destroy it. In so doing we hurt no one but ourselves, and even then not very much. I destroyed my own view when I parked my car there. But I didn't care. All I had to do was look the other way.
And if someone else eventually found Epping Road, as somebody did shortly after I took this picture, and he parked his black pick-up behind my car, more of my view would be ruined. Then the soft sounds of the fields would be covered by our voices exclaiming about the beauty around us (excluding our cars). Then we would ad the sound of rustling paper as the man opened a map to show me where I was, and I would know that Epping Road was only a short way from Pea Ridge Road, and if I followed Pea Ridge Road far enough I would be able to see the heath(which he pronounced "hayth"). Then I would know that where I was was not as spectacular as where I could be. And I would know that the traffic of route 1 was just beyond the hill, and the river was down below, prettier than Epping Road. Then, if I got caught up in this conversation, I would want to see these other places that were better and worse than Epping Road. And if we stood there thinking about these things long enough, somebody else might drive up and join us. He might be reminded of the southwest, the desert, which looks something like the blueberry barrens, and tell us about his travels. He might have a map, too, and rustle it above the sound of the breezes, and use it to shield our eyes from the sun. We might stand under a tent of maps, in the shade they made, looking for ourselves on the tiny lines, pointing with delight at the speck labeled Centerville. Other trucks and cars might appear, driving over the plants, and park, and clutter the field. When we looked up from the map, Epping Road might not be as I had thought. But I would still have my camera full of pictures and I would show them to all the people there in the little viewing window. I would take pictures of my new friends, too.
In reality, though, nobody came after the young man who showed me where to find the heath. I moved my car off to the side of the ruts that served as a road and he continued on his way, leaving me alone again. He smiled and waved, happy, I imagined, that I liked his place enough to be taking pictures of it. I had Epping Road to myself again. If a human being had to be intruding here, I was glad it was me.