Driving by Forever Wild
The Catskill Forest Preserve is designated as “Forever Wild”, evoking the primeval landscapes and majestic sunsets of the Hudson River School of painting. I moved to the Catskills more than 20 years ago longing to retreat from the city to that mythical Eden of the Romantic period, but instead I found myself surrounded by the pervasive encroachment of civilization; a poignant reminder of how the natural landscapes of the 19th century have been lost forever.
Nevertheless, I find that the sunset after a late afternoon summer thunderstorm as seen from the Home Depot parking lot is just as majestic as the vistas of Frederic Church or Thomas Cole. Instead of considering “Forever Wild” as a physical place, I see it as a state of being where Nature continues to struggle against Mankind. The border between wilderness and civilization becomes blurred, and the tension between the two portrays a dynamic metaphorical struggle for survival.
These dramas are found along the side of the road throughout the Catskills in humble settings where the evidence of this struggle has marked the landscape through the raw power of blizzards, floods, bulldozers and dump trucks. I often revisit many of these locations across the seasons to witness both the subtle and dramatic changes that take place over time. I seek out those rare moments when the sky and atmosphere fill the scenery of my daily life with light and significance, which I capture as I’m driving by Forever Wild.