I, like a few other people in this group, am a city kid. (I just happen to be from the best one). My first love was the Yankees, I still don’t have a driver’s license, and I know better how to use a subway than a shovel. But here in Socorro, 20 miles from El Paso, we’re on a farm, working the land rather than zipping beneath it. Our hosts, Marty and Ralph, are graciously allowing us to stay in an adobe home that dates to 1852, and to show our appreciation, we’ve helped them out with some tasks around the property. Along with some good company, I shoveled topsoil into wheelbarrows and into small plots of land that will, in time, be a spice garden. It was hours of work (a TON of dirt was moved) and not particularly easy, either. To preserve the sacred integrity of this board of yaks, I can’t lie and say that it was fun, or that I’m going to uproot my life and move out to a farm now. The beginning of this trip, though, has forced me to start rethinking my previous relationship with the earth, which, again for honesty’s sake, was entirely nonexistent. What we’ve recently learned here is that there may be an unexpected culprit for my previous disconnect: wilderness. We just spent a week hiking and canoeing our way through Big Bend National Park, whose staggering beauty will probably be relayed through others’ yaks. I’m a huge fan of national parks, like the rest of my family, and I’ve been to a decent few already. As we’ve been reading and discussing, though, as much as I may like to think of these parks as untouched refuges of wilderness, separated from human influence, they are carefully constructed products of our culture and civilization. And when city slickers like me hold up the “wilderness” as this ideal, the “real” nature worthy of preservation, we absolve ourselves of our personal responsibilities to the land. As one article we read put it, we look at a tree in a park as natural and the one on our backyard (or city block) as domesticated or foreign, but the reality of human advancement is such that at this point, we’re responsible for the continued existence of both. So even when I return to the big city, I’ll try to work on recognizing my impacts on the nature that surrounds me even there and appreciating the work that goes into its care. As much as I can forget it, I exist in the natural world, like every other human, in ways obvious and not; and the next time I pick up spices in the supermarket, I’ll at least have a better understanding of the dirty work that helped get them to me.