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How to Read the Land | The MIT Press Reader

By: John R. Stilgoe

Landscape smells of the sea. Wading into the ocean on a summer day reveals the essence of landscape. Seaward lie deeper water, surf, riptides and undertow, ocean rollers, and an arc of horizon never still and mocking human control. Landward the beach glows in sunlight, interrupting the storms which sweep sand and dunes and smooth cobbles and boulders. Like the margin between the end of type on a page and the edge of the page itself, every beach is marginal, literally the marge, a limicole zone contested by but hurricanes and incremental sea level rise. Somewhere in that space lies the ragged edge of what most people too casually dismiss as landscape, the controlled spatial and structural construct, permanent (presuming ceaseless maintenance and continuous renewal), the common built form easily taken for granted, all too easily half seen.wilderness and human order. With back to the sea, the wader sees sand and seawalls, as well as cottages and hotels and pathways that are beyond the reach of all