the exact middle of nowhere

empty web

Came across this spiderweb yesterday while bushwacking through state gamelands on the Allegheny Front. The phrase “middle of nowhere” tends to irritate me with its bigoted assumption that the only places that count are those with lots of people in them, and that rural places are essentially vacuous. But the typical land-use history of places like this suggests that rural people have internalized the same ideology. This area has been mined and clear-cut repeatedly, and with the top carnivores all wiped out, the deer numbers proliferate beyond all reason. Right behind me as I took this shot was a large field recently cleared of trees to plant grass for deer! And the black cherries and ferns in the shot survive because deer don’t like them (most of the time). Large parts of Penn’s Woods look just like this: a near monoculture almost as nowhere-ish as the chain stores and restaurants in every American shopping center.

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