essays

The Resiliency of Nature -- Expressway Edition

weeds under highwayThe three dead pigeons, lying close together on the shoulder of the expressway, didn't faze me, but I was curious. Were they poisoned? They were lying near a railroad overpass. Were they part of a group that was sitting on the tracks? Were these three too slow to move out of the way of an oncoming train?

I had to drive to work this morning and I couldn't help but notice nature in the least natural of places, to wit, the inbound Kennedy Expressway.

It was the small patch of green in the pavement, no more than a couple of feet long and a few inches wide, erupting through the joint that separates the roadway from the shoulder, that got me thinking along these lines. It wasn't grass, but it was a ground cover of some sort and it was green. Really green.

From then on, I was looking. There were all sorts of spots were plants had taken root -- one plant here or there -- mostly scraggly looking, but alive. I'm no gardener, but these looked like weeds to me. A foot tall or more, some of them, with thin leaves and cone-shaped, purplish flowers on several. Most of these had sprouted underneath the concrete medians, concrete blocks four roughly feet tall that strongly discourage traffic moving one way from drifting into a lane moving in the opposite direction. So there is massive concrete sitting atop a concrete floor -- O wondrous the mighty works of Man -- and, yet, every 100 feet or so, sometimes less, sometimes more, there was another plant pushing through.

Thus, the dead possum on the Ohio feeder ramp, just entering the downtown area, came as no surprise. Why shouldn't there be wild animals (not just rats) anywhere at all? Nature bides her time with us, our human infestation. So many of us think we control her: tree growin out of concreteSo many of us believe we can plant mighty cities anywhere we choose, in swamps (like my Chicago) or deserts (Phoenix, Las Vegas). We believe Nature will conform meekly to our desires. Al Gore's disciples are more afraid of Nature, but still they think they -- we humans -- can control her. They think Nature will do our bidding if only we curb carbon dioxide emissions.

But a trip into the City, through one of the least natural landscapes possible, shows that it's more complicated than that. Nature will do what she wants, when she wants, whether we like it or not. Whether we can survive it or not. We can fight, of course, but -- for the foreseeable future -- we must lose. Nature is far too strong. It's too bad we don't have a space program anymore. By our inaction, we have placed all our hopes, all our futures, at the mercy of an oft-capricious Nature. But anyone who has studied history and geology and paleontology, even casually, knows that Mother Nature can be one tough mother at times.

Of her own choosing.

Curmudgeon is a self-described dinosaur -- an Ozzie and Harriet person living in an Ozzy and Sharon world. And sometimes it confuses the heck out of him. He writes a very amusing blog at Second Effort.

Got a 400 word essay you'd like to contribute? Click here.
Sign up for BoomSpeak Email Updates

 

 

2006-2013 ConceptDesign, Inc. Terms of Use
BoomSpeak - For babyboomers - by babyboomers.