Students of urban planning and design talk about a phenomenon known as “desire lines.” In French, the language of origin for the expression, it’s “chemins du désir.” Paths of desire. Some people call them “intention lines.”
Whatever words you use, they are a phenomenon recognizable to anyone. They are the paths traced along the ground by living creatures trying to get from one point to another. The ribbons of dirt worn in the grass.
For centuries, designers and planners have used these paths to determine where they would put the paved streets of their cities, or the walking paths of their campuses and parks. You’ll find plenty of anecdotal discussion of those techniques in the comments here.
You can see desire lines worn into the surface of grass. You cannot see them on asphalt.
also, desire lines is the name of an amazing song by deerhunter.
makes me think of coke and anne carson!