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Into The Woods

Do Not Fuck Around With The Woods

A Danger sign in front of trees in Yellowstone National Park warns visitors to not approach wildlife.
Elena Pueyo/Getty Images

The heady scent of apple cider is in the air, the foliage has begun its annual transition from life to death, and the Defector staff has once again retreated to a secret wooded location to conduct annual company meetings. In an effort to keep the blogs humming while we're sequestered, we've curated a collection of woods-themed posts for your enjoyment.

It's hard to come out against a concept as basic as "the woods." The woods are good. The woods are necessary. We need the woods just to have a habitable planet. Almost every person on earth who opposes the woods is a real estate developer, and even those among you who are undecided about the woods would be completely on board with the woods sending out a bear for each developer with the goal being a series of near-fatal maulings.

But let's be honest here, the woods aren't for us. We shouldn't be screwing with the woods, let alone in the woods, because (a) we've evolved from that, (b) the wifi sucks in the woods, and (c) we ruin everything we touch. All the things that we can agree are good about the woods–the tiny little bugs, the tallest trees, the sweeping vistas of things that have been allowed to thrive for centuries–are that way BECAUSE WE NEVER GO IN THERE.

And that's the lesson. Some things can be admired and fostered and defended by us without us butting our bulbous faces therein. We don't have to be in the woods to laud the concept of the woods. In fact, we shouldn't be in the woods at all to comprehend the enduring values of the woods. We can take the woods at face value, and in many ways the woods tell us this on a daily basis. It takes a lot to ruin the woods, but we can do that with the right amount of money for the right amount of money.

Which is why we must defend the woods by leaving the woods alone. On our field trip to Newfoundland, we discovered the fact that most of the province is woods and some ancillary bodies of water to help feed the woods. The Trans-Canada Highway (which is actually a number of highways that cross the country) has unironic signs urging drivers to watch for moose, and the sign makes it clear without actually saying it that in such a collision everyone will root for the moose because it will absolutely be the human's fault.

The wisdom here is unassailable. Whatever inner peace and outer quiet one can gain by visiting the woods isn't going to be good for the woods, and that brings us to the central truth; we have our deal, the woods has its deal, and the best thing to do is leave the two as separate as possible. We've already stolen more than our share of woods from the woods, and we don't really need any more, not when we already have so much land that has neither humans nor woods (see Australia as an example). Let us instead view the woods as a separate empire with a quietly hostile view of us, barely maintaining diplomatic relations to avoid open warfare while remaining justifiably wary of our mostly shitty intentions.

But this isn't just on us. The woods in its pristine state isn't made for us. We need walls and roofs and electricity because we have evolved out of the things the woods can provide for its main constituencies. And, to be honest, the woods has evolved away from us as well, and for damned fine reasons. The fictional moose getting hit by the car doesn't get hit as an act of defiance against The Man called Man, it would just as soon be on its non-vehicular way. But make no mistake, the moose isn't the problem. It's the highway and the car on the highway. Yes, without the highway or the car we would have no idea how alluring the woods can be, but that appreciation doesn't do the moose any good, and in this space at least, we are all Team Moose. Even this week, on land we stole from the woods.

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