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Maggie Chok

‘The trails we create from the soil are born of a mixture of mud and thought.’

When humans make themselves at home in a new landscape, they initially behave much like deer—seeking out resources, learning routes, making signs—but over time, that field acquires an additional layer of significance. The land grows to contain not just resources, but stories, spirits, sacred nodes, and the bones of ancestors. At the same time, a deep recognition grows among the people that their lives depend on the products of the soil. People and land become interwoven, until they are nearly indistinguishable: it is no accident that, according to a striking number of cultures around the world, the first humans were sculpted from mud or clay. One version of the Hopi creation story tells that humans were created by two gods named Tawa and the Spider Woman; Tawa thought up the notion of the first man and woman, and then Spider Woman fashioned them from mud, declaring, “May the Thought live.”

The trails we create from the soil are likewise born of a mixture of mud and thought. Over time, more thoughts accrete, like footprints, and new layers of significance form. Rather than mere traces of movement, trails became cultural through-lines, connecting people and places and stories—linking the trail-walker’s world into a coherent, if fragile, whole.

(Source: On Trails: An Exporation—Robert Moor, Photo: Katrin Korfmann)