It’s not the same game
No finish line to pursue
only to persist
This haiku (5-7-5) is in recognition of the way that nature finds a way to undo all our good efforts of controlling her. Thick slabs of concrete are beaten down by the sun and wind, while weeds grow from out the tiniest foothold – later the bushes and trees turn over the earth until nothing remains of those things we built.
The photo was taken one Winter’s day, a construction site that had been abandoned for about 5 months. See how towards the back, some bushes (possibly blackberry) are spreading across the ground, and the creeper on the left, making its way up a sheet metal wall? Those weeds on the footpath, claiming the gaps…
Property rights aside, we try our best to claim land as part of the built environment, which at the slightest of opportunities returns to a natural state. When I look at buildings these days, all I see are ungrown trees.
Plants are as aggressive in their pursuit of land as we are, and in our absence will clear away man made structures without difficulty. All that is needed is time, and they seem to keep to a schedule that doesn’t keep time with ours.
When working on the design of my garden, I always keep in mind the invasive ability of those plants, and how they would take advantage of their placement, the relationships they would have with neighbouring plants, micro-climates, available water and soil nutrients. Having at least partial control helps to provide the most effective return on the productivity of those plants for food production.
The image above is a small scale example of what happens in any place no longer tended by human hands. And the best places to see this happening are in abandoned cities and tows, now a living labratory of man made structures returning to nature. Places where the built environment becomes unbuilt.
The image below is from within the greenhouse of a school in the ghost town of Pripyat near Chernobyl. This and the images of city decay that follow are from the very talented Timm Suess.
And the local cinema – no longer serving popcorn and choc tops…
And in this case, an abandoned mill in East Germany. A carpet of green has replaced the floor, and now trees are reaching upwards, in their never ending pursuit of sunlight.
Those tree roots will break apart the fountains of the mill, while wind and rain will weaken the mortar that holds those bricks in place.
Plants have their own way of reclaiming land, a slow and steady suffocation of space that was well rehearsed long before we arrived here.
As long as plants persist; that their pollen fills the skies, their seeds lay dormant in the earth, and an aspiration to reach skywards, they will will continue to adapt and prosper – with us, or without.
- Slideshow: Remembering Chernobyl (history.com)
- Fall Gardening Update (lizbethsgarden.wordpress.com)
- 7 Abandoned Amusement Parks (neatorama.com)
I can’t help but think about the opening scene in I Am Legend, where plants, trees and weeds have overtaken the abandoned refuse of urban America. By the way, I love the haiku. I’ve written a few of my own. http://www.runwritedig.com/2012/11/17/how-haiku-made-me-a-better-non-fiction-writer/
Thanks Chuck, I like your site and what you wrote in that post is very true.