Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Washington DC is a surprisingly green city, bursting with trees, lawns, gardens, parks, and two beautiful rivers. Ordinarly I tend to focus on the living green world when I think about the terrain in which I live.
But truth is, much of the terrain here is made from concrete, brick and asphalt. No denying it - cities are paved landscapes, which is, in many ways a nice thing. I know I should be against all the pavement, but it does serve a practical purpose. Riding a bike is far easier on a street than cross country, walking on sidewalks is so great on rainy days (walking through mud isn't as much fun).
During the summer, all that concrete and asphalt contributes to the feeling of being scalded, roasted and steamed, but in winter, the streets soak up sunlight and provide a tiny bit of warmth. Winter tree shadows are splendid on nice black asphalt. I can't resist staring at them and photographing them, over and over again.
With our shoes, bikes, strollers, shopping carts, and cars, we city dwellers have adapted to the paved landscape. Many of us urban folks would be completely undone trying to move around over a "natural" landscape.
Of course, it's all natural. The asphalt, concrete and brick does not come from outer space. Sidewalks and streets are manipulated natural materials, not that different than squirrel nests, ant hills or beaver dams, except we're larger animals, and have opposable thumbs. And of course we get carried away sometimes and just can't stop our manipulation of the landscape, so we end up with completely paved cities like San Francisco and New York where the green earth only has tiny islands in which to express itself.
DC is the perfect balance of paved and unpaved which is yet one more reason I am so in love with this crazy, beautiful city. Why not appreciate the asphalt? Why not?