“The Oxford English Dictionary has it this way:
Of animals — not tame, undomesticated, unruly.
Of plants — not cultivated.
Of land — uninhabited, uncultivated.
Of foodcrops — produced or yielded without cultivation.
Of societies — uncivilized, rude, resisting constituted government.
Of individuals — unrestrained, insubordinate, licentious, dissolute, loose. “Wild and wonton widows” – 1614.
Of behavior — violent, destructive, cruel, unruly.
Of behavior – Artless, free, spontaneous. “Warble his native wood-notes wild” – John Milton
Wild is largely defined in our dictionaries by what – from a human standpoint – it is not. It cannot be seen by this approach for what it is. Turn it the other way:
Of animals — free agents, each with its own endowments, living within natural systems.
Of plants — self-propagating, self-maintaining, flourishing in accord with innate qualities.
Of land — a place where the original and potential vegetation and fauna are intact and in full interaction and the landforms are entirely the result of nonhuman forces.
Of foodcrops — food supplies made available and sustainable by the natural excess and exuberance of wild plants in their growth and in the production of quantities of fruit or seeds.
Of societies — societies whose order has grown from within and is maintained by the force of consensus and custom rather than explicit legislation. Primary cultures, which consider themselves the original and eternal inhabitants of their territory. Societies which resist economic and political domination by civilization. Societies whose economic system is in a close and sustainable relation to the local ecosystem.
Of individuals — following local custom, style, and etiquette without concern for the standards of the metropolis or nearest trading post. Unintimidated, self-reliant, independent. “Proud and free.”
Of behavior — fiercely resisting any oppression, confinement, or exploitation. Far-out, outrageous, “bad,” admirable.
Of behavior — artless, free, spontaneous, unconditioned. expressive, physical, openly sexual, ecstatic.” – Gary Snyder
I spent a couple days hiking at Mount Rainier National Park last month. The wildflowers were in full bloom – a dusting of purple lupines covered all the ground that the sun could reach. I ran into the local mountain goats both days. The first time I saw six of them near Panhandle Gap moving downhill toward a knoll with fresh greens.
The next day I ran into even more (I counted 21) on Burroughs Mountain. Free-agents with their own endowments eating a self-maintaining, self-propogating snack.