Right or Wrong. Black or White. Republican or Democrat.

It seems like, more and more, we’re pressured to choose sides in our culture, communities & politics. Personally, I’ve often been accused of making too many compromises in my life. Of not whole-heartedly siding with one team or another. Condoning “grey areas” in one’s personal life is often seen as some sort of weakness.

But it only takes a single nature walk to learn that the most impressive discoveries are neither “here” nor “there.” They’re in the in-between. The boundaries between field and forest. Ocean and dunes. River and shore. Desert and rainforest. Pasture and wild.

Scientifically, these areas that mark the transition between two distinct ecosystems are called “ecotomes.”  They can be broad – like a river delta. Or narrow – like an old stone wall between a meadow and woods.

These grey areas in nature aren’t “less than.” They’re “more than.” One interesting thing about almost all ecotomes is that they’re teeming with more bio-diversity than what lies on either side of it. You’ll find more (and more unique,) kinds of plant and animal life in and around a stone wall than you will in either the meadow or forest bordering either side.

I’d like to think the same holds true on a bigger scale. That consciously choosing to take “The Middle Way,” is a sign that one believes that there is more fertile ground in compromise than in absolutes. Maybe one day people will realize that choosing “either/or” is actually less courageous than putting your foot down firmly in the middle.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go for a spring walk along the back edge Beekman 1802 Farm – an ecotome between field and forest. Some of our most interesting and fleeting discoveries are found during walks in the springtime (another “in-between” dividing winter and summer.)  Come along…


by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Reader Comments

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Wow, Josh, perfectly written or is that perfectly said. I’m reading it over and over. AND, such beautiful country you live in.

Jo-Ellen Unger

This was wonderful, Josh. It made me sit back and enjoy the magic of nature in your backyard. What a peaceful and inspiring respite. Miss you guys. I’ll have to venture over to Sharon Springs soon and hope you’re not in the garden!

Peggy B

Such a wonderful time I had on this walk with you. I am unable to do it physically any more .
And viewing your photos makes me feel like I ha e actually gone on a walk . Thank you I’m looking forward to some more

Margo H

Loved looking at your pictures around the farm. It seems so peaceful, made me want to join in on your walk. Nature can have such a calming influence.

Nancy L.

I am inspired by the way you see things. It may seem an odd reaction but, through these insightful shots, you brought great calm to a day that started rather chaotically….thanks for sharing the beauty with a northern neighbour.

Debbie Young

What a wonderful article, and such a joy to walk with you through part of the farm. Thank you!

Bonnie Zeller Butler

Just loved these pictures. Was thrilled to see currants growing. Miss them and gooseberries.

Laura Pizziketti

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I love seeing Onder…I remember her as a puppy. She has grown into a beautiful dog.

Marcia Pokus

I’m ever grateful for people like you guys who appreciate the natural world rather than demanding all of it conform to human designs. While I have little land around my home, I leave cover for small creatures and have a pollinator corner with wild grape vines and such. My favorite thing is the wild thistle which grows almost five feet high and sends out thousands of seeds in airborne fluff. Thank you for your inspiration and information. Beaver teeth!

Meredith Kenworthy

Hi Josh (& Brent)- just finished reading the bucolic plague. I’m late to the party but wanted to say thanks for writing the book. Loved it. I wish you’d do more reality tv. We have really enjoyed watching the old episodes. Your lives are inspiring for a number of reasons. I hope you are both doing well and that the business is strong. Happy sparkle-farming!