I moved 90 miles west in the fall of 2013, trading Boston for the Pioneer Valley. Along with this geographical change came a subsequent change in my daily routine. No longer was I taking Stevie to a baseball/soccer field in the morning, but to a series of trails in the woods that was dubbed the Northampton dog park. I became curious about this place, not just because of how different it was from our previous morning walk location, but because of its growing inclusion in my daily life. Growing up in Vermont I was no stranger to ruralness or the quietude of the woods, but I’ve never had such easy and immediate access to these places as I do now.

After a few weeks of daily trips to these woods, I began to notice ways in which the dogs have subtly and unintentionally transformed the landscape. Every so often, alongside the trails there are breaks in the brush about the size and shape of your average dog which lead deeper into the thicket, to places where their human guardians cannot follow. I became interested in the aesthetic quality of these temporary shapes and spaces (they disappear with the changing seasons, and do not reappear in the same location), and increasingly interested in how these “dog holes” mirror my own ideas of what the woods represent: solitude in a public space, quiet contemplation, loneliness, and the dangerousness and enticement of the unknown.

Considering the woods from both a cultural and commercial stand point, I wonder about my own relationship to nature and wilderness, and what exactly has informed my opinion of what the woods represent. And how, if at all, that’s changed because of my recent relocation and/or because I have a dog and inherently spend more time outdoors.

I do not want to create a picture of this place, but rather see how much this place can tell me about myself, and in the process question and understand my relationship to nature and the natural world.

Trevor Powers
March 2015
Easthampton, Mass.