Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I try to go for a walk every morning, but the majority of the time I find myself drawn down to the ocean, where I crouch under an Arbutus tree or sit in its branches and watch the waves for thirty or forty minutes.

I'm fascinated by this little bit of shoreline. The strange part is that it's on someone's property, so I'm trespassing every morning when I go down there. There are three houses on the property; two are abandoned and one is the owners' summer home - a ramshackle manor that must be a hundred years old. I draw the houses and outbuildings and remnants of older buildings buried under blackberries in the forest - a brick fireplace with a gorgeous wrought-iron frame, or an old trellis that has collapsed over a dark, rocky stream.

I don't know what I'm going to do in the summer when the owners presumably visit the property. I imagine that I'll come down in the predawn and stick to the far side of the lot, where there's no way we would see each other and where I can feel like I'm respecting their privacy.

I justify my actions by thinking that I'm not causing any harm, and that I really respect and enjoy the land - most of which has probably not been walked across in decades by anyone but myself. I stay away from the manor. I think there's a part of me that just refuses to accept that it's possible to buy land, put a line on a map and say that no one else can go there and enjoy it, even if it's not being used. Eventually, all the enjoyable land would be private property and only enjoyable by the wealthy.

I think about Cancun, where apparently the locals can't put their foot in the ocean without driving for hours because the entire shoreline is owned by all-inclusive resorts.

I think there are laws allowing people to walk and even camp on private property in some European countries. Makes sense to me.

1 comment:

  1. You're right about Europe. In Sweden, anyway, it's called Allemansr├Ątt, which basically means "Freedom to Roam" (literally, it's translated as "Everyman's Right"). There are further guidelines but basically, as long as you don't harm anything or disturb anyone, you may go about on private property much as you would on public. Cool, hey?