Our borderlands contain many natural ones. Some are wildlife refuges that soften the borders between man and animal. I grew up in one, called the Great Meadows in eastern Massachusetts where my grandfather, Dick Borden, a wildlife filmmaker and conservationist, maintained an entire ecosystem of wildlife, including pet otters, geese, coyotes, and grandchildren.
Recently I visited, with permission, the private grounds for the first time since my grandfather’s interment there nearly two decades ago. The ponds and former meadows are rich with history, including numerous visits by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th century. Here are a few stanzas by Emerson about them:
In the long sunny afternoon,
The plain was full of ghosts;
I wandered up, I wandered down,
Beset by pensive hosts.
The winding Concord gleamed below,
Pouring as wide a flood
As when my brothers, long ago
Came with me to the wood.
– Peter’s Field (1904)