Driven to this unformed scraggly ignored backlot, this not-quite
Prairie, not-quite thicket, not even natural corner of
Texas, the hardscrabble left butt of a demoralized nation,
It is my choice and my pleasure to cherish this haphazard wilderness.
No, it’s not even “wild” – it’s a neglected product of artifice.
Come, let us walk by an improvised lakeshore, be given a vision:
Beaches of black dust, beautiful white ghosts, this drowned forest…
- Frederick Turner, Texas Eclogue
Does our discourse of urban nature allow a space for marginal nature to emerge literally and conceptually? The problem is that we use the metaphors of wilderness and pastoral nature to construct a conceptual framework for nature appreciation and writing, for science and conservation, for environmental management and protection, and then we expect “nature” to measure up to these standards or be regarded as a thing degraded, demeaned, or deceased. This framework limits the possibilities for marginal nature in the city by setting expectations for the kinds of nature, the wild and the pastoral, welcomed in the urban landscape.