It used to be that “adventuress” meant a whore or at least was supposed to mean that; I would have been terrified as a girl of being labeled with the term. But we are (partly, halfway, maybe) in a new age, ushered in at least in part by the attitudes and possibilities following the passing of Title IX legislation. Sports, real sports, not half-court basketball, became a reality and then a necessity for girls, making physical strength not only acceptable but a goal. At the same time, the old term “tomboy” fell into disuse—we are all tomboys now. Or at least we can be.
Girls and women tend to adventure in groups, both for support, safety and for fun. One of my many single women friends told me, “I have much more fun with my girlfriends now than I ever did with the boys.” We speak the same language, after all, and often seem to share the same sense of humor. And so we go forth—as the young women who recently took a hike on Wolf Pen Mill Farm illustrate.
The hike they went on is not long, but it is down a rocky, winding road, through deeply overshadowing trees, in the lingering heat and humidity—and with bugs. At the end of the trail, they found the triple waterfall that is one of the reasons I placed the farm in conservation easements. The thick trees obscured their view of an enormous house on the bluff over the waterfall, an advance guard of the kind of high-cost, low-quality houses that would have consumed the land and polluted the creek that creates the waterfall.
These young women, for me, represent the future. Their picture replaces, if slowly, the cowboy image we have all been drawn to at some point in our lives, although now even the cowboys are vanquished by drought. Anyone in a Stetson riding an RV to round up cattle might agree with the Mike Herne song about giving up that enterprise. It ends with the line, “And the roof of the pickup cuts out too much of the sky.”
The sky here in Kentucky is blurred by heat, and humidity, and the enormous arc lights on thirty foot high stanchions that blare the presence of the interstate half a mile away, as though its twenty-four hour a day roar was not enough. But the young women walking the woods trail are not daunted, I imagine, by what is being destroyed around us all—or at least they have a few hours of respite walking to the triple waterfall.
We meet as women, when we are able to, too often in windowless concrete convention centers or halls. But we need light and air and the open road—or the open country. And we are finding ways to find it; look at the women rock climbing, running, swimming, mountaineering. Amazingly, the threats we still face from the dominant culture, the insults and violence, have not stopped us. We still go for the outer air.
All hail, adventuresses!