The tragedy of asphalt and concrete

Civilization gives us many advantages. Modern plumbing. Access to doctors. Ease in finding like minded communities. But it also takes away. There is a cost for all this convenience. For me it’s summed up in the tragedy of asphalt and concrete.
I think of all the land that has been covered by these two substances. I live in a suburb of Chicago. A huge city. Lots of asphalt and concrete. I think of all the wildflowers that could be growing freely in this space. I think of all the acres of trees and prairie plants that could be blooming every spring. And I’m sad.
Sad that I will never know the openness of nature that our ancestors knew. The closeness to the land that filled their daily lives. Our ancestors certainly faced the challenges of nature. But they were also free to experience its power and glory.
I wonder what my ancestors thought about this closeness to the Elements. Or did they really think about it at all? Perhaps it was such a force in their lives that they really didn’t give it much thought at all. Maybe it was so woven into the fabric of their existence that they really didn’t have time to ponder its majesty. But I’m sure there were moments when they would just stand in the midst of it and think “Wow!” Of only for a moment. And yet that was enough.
And therein lies the tragedy. So many of us are urban dwellers and have limited access to those moments of profound wow. We can catch our glimpses of it in parks and forest preserves and other bits of natural habitat. But we are cut off from the moments our ancestors must have had simply by living close to the land. Most of us don’t get the “Wow”s. And I say that’s a tragedy.

Walking the dog

I have a dog. A chihuahua named Lola. She needs lots of walks. And as someone with MS walking her is a big deal for me. It’s one of the few ways I get to experience nature. And I can observe the changing of the seasons firsthand. For me walking the dog is a direct act of Druidry. It’s an important link that I have found to be indispensable.

As my chihuahua Lola will tell you the changing of the seasons is a big deal. The time of spring and summer bring longer walks as she revels in the sun and warm weather. Winter is not her friend. She quickly does what she needs to do and heads back toward the door. But I make her suffer a bit so I can experience the wonder of snow and clouds and chilly weather. For me this time of year is as important as all the rest for all that it means. For me winter is a time for introspection and planning what you’d like to accomplish in the next year. Time to be relished. Time for ideas.

Spring is a time Lola loves. The warmer weather causes a definite change in her attitude about walk time. Now she decides to frolic a bit. Lots of time spent sniffing about. I find this the time to observe the wonder of the new plant growth and opening of flowers. A time of beauty. And time for me to plant all those ideas I’d thought of during the winter for the new year. A busy time of getting things in order for the outcome I’d like. Full of hope and possibilities.

Summer makes Lola pant. She loves the sun in her back. She loves all the bright sunlight. For me summer is a time for growth. Growing all the ideas and plans I’d planted during spring. Letting things come to fruition and get ready to be harvested. A good time indeed.

Fall makes Lola nervous. She can sense that the weather is getting nippy and the sun is out fewer hours. She starts getting into a pattern of shorter walks. For me I take this time to marvel at the wonderful display that nature puts on. The amazing color of the leaves. This is a time I spend harvesting the rewards of all that’s been growing for me. Ideas planted in the spring are now ready for me to enjoy the fruits of. Maybe my favorite time of year.  I love to get the benefits of all the work I’ve done throughout the year.

Then we’re back to winter. And the wheel of the year has made its full turn. Lola and I are both a year older. And I hope a year wiser. I’ve experienced the marvel of nature one more year. Thanks to Lola. Lola is always ready for what the next turning of the wheel will bring.