There’s a sprawling field near my home in Pittsburgh encompassing a meandering, branching valley and surrounding the headwaters of Chalfant Run. This was a golf course not too long ago and I would have never visited there when it was. The place has evolved in the last few years, however, since the golf club went bankrupt and I can only imagine that all the growing things, crawling things and swimming things can only approve. I watch Chalfant run evolve from one month to the next, the runs of native creek chub growing stronger season by season.
The homogeneous, carefully cultivated habitat of places like golf courses isn’t good for much of any living thing, aside from the grasses and shrubs that are planted there. The complexity so vital to living things springs from unplanned landscapes that just
work better for the opportunistic creatures we’ve never domesticated. The grasses now grow higher and more diverse year by year and Chalfant Run meanders more, as all lowland flowages should. Large tree branches and rocks lie between the stream banks in places where humans would have never placed them and the creek chubs appreciate all of this.
I run on the former golf paths sometimes and I fish with my super-light jig pole, a thin line simply tied to its springy tip. This “park” does so many people so much good without anyone officially ever labeling it a park. How many such newly and accidentally wild places exist within a mile of your home?
I wrote an article about this place recently entitled “Churchill: Life Beyond Golf” or originally, “Libertarian Park”. I’m trying to find an appropriate periodical to publish the piece and I’ll let you know when it appears in print this spring or summer.