Monday, January 08, 2007

Back to nature

There are some country lanes I know in the part of England I'm from that are on their way back to nature. These are narrow, one lane roads, with thick hedgerows on either side but they are tarmaced ("paved" for non-UK viewers) like virtually every other road in the UK. The lanes don't get used much, by farm traffic mainly, and particularly when the sugarbeet gets gathered in autumn, like everywhere else in that part of the world, they get covered in mud. But unlike on busier roads the rain and traffic doesn't move that mud away, it gathers in the middle of lane and grass and weeds start to grow. So although there are still two paved 'ruts' to drive along this band of nature that survives in the middle and you can see how quickly nature could recover the road totally if we people all moved on.

I've always felt this was rather lovely; wild flowers managing to grow back over paved roads that are in many ways one of the ultimate signs of human taming of our environment, but I came across a blog post today which shows similar but in a much sadder setting. The pictures are from a part of Detroit so afflicted by urban plight; drugs, guns, prostitution and poverty that it has basically been abandoned by mankind. Somewhere near the city centre, but nature is claiming it back. I've never been to Detroit, but have read a little about the major problems it is facing due to industrial decline - these pictures look rather lovely, but the text saying gunfire is often heard in the background might make potential tourists think again.

I'm watching the third season of the Wire at the moment on Finnish TV - and we often discuss whether Baltimore can really be as ugly and depressing as this brilliant show makes it out to be. But if it faces problems like Detroit, and I believe the two cities do have similar issues of industrial decline and population flight, then perhaps it is. But at least it seems that when there is no one left to sell or buy the crack, wild flowers will come back.

Thanks to Will Gadd at Gravsports where I found the link to Detroit Blog.

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