The old, drab-coloured mom and pop bait shop several blocks away provided little in the way of entertainment, even for the most bored of pre-teens. I found myself there all the same, with nothing better to do than poke around. A comfortable, homey sort of place on the inside, I nonetheless saw the whole thing in about five minutes. Back outside.
Growing up, nearby woods always presented a favourite place for exploration. No woods nearby, not really. However, a hillside full of trees fell a little too sharp, but manageable, behind the bait shop. The junk dumped just beyond the treeline caught my attention first.
I wrinkled my nose, disappointed in the locals, but went to look closer, pointedly ignoring the “No trespassing” sign. All down the hillside, junk. Useless tires, chairs, a toilet, sink, sopping, moldy, unidentifiable heaps of cloth. Nothing super filthy though such as diapers or rotting food. I walked sideways along the hill, pretending something other than the open-field below and city-scape above existed on either side of the thin strip of trees.
It presented a thrilling challenge, as steep as it was. Many times I needed to swing myself from trunk to trunk, wedging my feet behind them lest I slide down the steep hillside. I never expected to find a fairy paradise. A disposable camera, my first, leaped eagerly from pocket to hand. I spent the entire roll on it, including shots with the fairy paradise in one half, and the ignorant dump of trash on the other, a sharp line of contrast down the middle.
Those photos commanded attention. They also provided painfully clear validation for my initial anger and disgust at the illegal dumping. I knew not many saw the tiny, but breathtaking waterfall and cascading moss structures. I doubted anyone truly knew at all. The climb proved challenging with little reason to bother unless you knew what hid back here amongst the debris. Further still, I doubt my actions met with parent approval. Any sane parent would most definitely tell their child no, preteen or not.
Somehow the film failed in development, I think it never made it to a store at all. Long story short on that, I never saw the picture results. Too bad, I convinced myself I could win a current anti-pollution photo and essay contest with the contrast photo.
I still remember that hillside and even now and it defies appropriate description. It seems to me we often find grand, bigger-than-life, natural beauty the most breath-taking. Such wonderful scenery confronts us with our truly small size in the grand scheme of wonder filling our vision. Now, imagine an unexpected sight such as that, but somehow after climbing over a filthy broken chair, you can see an entire rainforest from the best angle without the canopy in your way. Furthermore, you can maintain that vantage point as you move with precise care above and around it. You stand, a giant in awe of an awesome fairy-sized rainforest, a cliff side of moss and clear waterfalls so small the 6-inch thick trees become redwoods.
I insist it’s no accident of nature, but that some great, fairy-sized artist sculpted the entire thing by hand, with an eye for perfection. Meanwhile, clueless humans dumped old and rusted trash nearby. I doubt that magic hillside exists today. I only traveled there once, upon my next return, so much new trash blocked the way that I could no longer make the trip at all.
I wish I had those pictures. I have this one though, a similar message contained within:
Yep, that aerosol can on a North Carolina beach says “Clean” and yes, it was pure chance, not staged. Clean, indeed.
I promise my intention was not an eco-post, I simply wanted to share, in writing, a fantastic place once found hidden on a steep hillside. It might still exist, after all, the only way to get to that section was a sideways climb through junk.