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.

1 thought on “The tragedy of asphalt and concrete”

  1. I feel a similar loss when I see just how much land is covered by concrete. Cities range from 50-94% impervious cover. Making concrete requires so much energy to produce and doesn’t last. Our roads are constantly being repaired. This is such a failed technology. In my city a lot of the creeks and streams were canalized eve. They poured concrete on the banks! I am so grateful that the creek near my house escaped that attention. It remains wild and lovely.

    Like

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