Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

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bosque

The English bosk is a small woods or thicket especially heavy with bushes or shrubbery. The word comes unchanged from the Middle English bosk, meaning "bush." "And with each end of they blue bow dost crown/​My bosky acres, and my unshrubb'd down," as written by William Shakespeare in The Tempest, act 4, scene 1. Bosks were often used as hiding places by escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. Those hunting for them generally failed to search these small, bush-filled woods, thinking the escapees would more likely hide in large forests. Bosque is Spanish for forest and is slightly different from the English term in that it refers specifically to trees. In the Southwest, the term refers to a riparian forest situated along a river. Bosque del Apache, now a national wildlife refuge located along the Rio Grande near Socorro, New Mexico, was first named by the Spanish who observed Apaches routinely camping there. Corrales Bosque Preserve, near Rio Rancho, New Mexico, provides a migratory stopover and nesting habitat for over 180 species of birds.

—Pattiann Rogers

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