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Seeking Nature

To kick off our blog post series for Operative Landscapes we were asked to ponder the question “Where do you seek nature and why?” The first thought that came to mind would be to identify a physical place, regardless of if this was the intent of the question or not. Hidden within the Cherokee National Forest along a winding stretch of ‘skyway’ road is a small nature and recreation area known as Indian Boundary. The narrowing road drops you at the middle of a small mile-and-a-half long lake that lies at the foot of a large ridge. On one side a mountain rises into the fog. On the other, nothing, as the land descends to the valley below. You are given the sense of a body of water suspended among trees. But is it really “nature” or “natural”? The lake itself is man-made, the collected and trapped flows of several mountain streams held back by a decades-old dam. The forests surrounding the pristine body, heavily manicured and managed by a small force of rangers and specialists. The very presence of this place is a contradiction, one that is easy to ignore thanks to the serenity to and quite it provides. The illusion of Hunt’s first nature expertly disguising a small unnatural infrastructure. Then, if the ‘nature’ of this place can’t be trusted, what is natural? A question to build upon over the next few months…

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