After living in Phoenix, Arizona before moving to New Jersey a year ago, the variation in wilderness between the two places continues to be striking. Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the country and New Jersey is the most densely populated state, and although those facts seem to suggest that wilderness would be in short supply, it is not difficult in either place to find a park to walk through, a mountain to climb, or a canal to run along (yes, Phoenix has canals too). Arizona’s landscapes range from deserts full of saguaros to striking mountains covered with pine trees, while New Jersey’s landscapes include beaches as well as rolling hills. This is to say nothing of the difference in foliage and wildlife: Arizona’s cacti, palm trees, and javelinas, and New Jersey’s deciduous forests, pine barrens, and seemingly endless squirrel population. The climate, of course, is wildly different, and necessitates an awareness of what time to go outside and survive the experience. 4 p.m. in August in Phoenix? You should have gotten up at 4 a.m. to go for a run instead. 6 a.m. in February in Ewing? Bundle up for your run!
Nonetheless, over the past year and through all of the seasons, I have joyfully explored New Jersey’s parks, canal paths, and other green spaces, and this fall will be experiencing two new locations to celebrate Wilderness Month. We hope you’ll join us to explore some local terrain that may or may not be familiar to you when the library brings two book discussions to St. Michael’s Farm Preserve and the Institute for Advanced Study Woods in September.
Encouraged by poet Gary Snyder’s line that “Walking is a great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to mankind,” we’ll be discussing Snyder’s “The Practice of the Wild” , with a discussion led by David LaMotte, former Chair of English at Princeton Day School (PDS), on September 10 at 11 a.m. at St. Michael’s Preserve; and Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness”, led by Liz Cutler, PDS Sustainability Coordinator, on September 24 at 11 a.m. at the Quaker Friends Meetinghouse. Join us for one or both book discussions to walk through these local green spaces while discussing two important works on nature, wilderness, and wildness. Also, be sure to check out additional recommended readings from our collection.
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