Joel Patterson | Petersburgh, N.Y.

This is a photo of a tree-- long ago, someone strung barbed wire to fence off a field-- in the intervening years, the tree has kept growing, swallowing the wire whole, and now the tree is located in the deepest woods. This tells a tale to me, and I don't think I'm romanticizing it all that much. Immigrants (or at least settlers) set out to tame the hillsides, clearing the land and defining pastures for grazing. They went to alot of trouble to fence it all in, and the ceaseless stone walls imply back-breaking effort to overhaul the terrain. All of this work didn't exactly pan out-- Nature has reasserted its dominion-- and so the wire poking out of the trees speak at once of ambition and fortitude and failure and futility.

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The Neighborhood Photo Project is a collaboration of Marketplace's Wealth and Poverty Desk and the Public Insight Network.
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