Topic: urban issues
The other war is almost over.
I mean the little but very dirty War on Deciduousness.
All over town, battalions of fighters have been deployed in defense of the precious American lawn, which for weeks has been under assault by falling leaves.
The leaves, you see, hate everything we stand for – our way of life.
They think nothing of doing violence to all that Chemlawn hath wrought. Every gently tumbling leaf is actually an attempt to smother the pure, deep monocultures that surround our homes, dominate our campuses and office parks, embellish our Big Box shoppotopias, and pour “non-point” pollution into our waterways. And so the leaves, though they're a key feature of varied ecosystems at this latitude, must go.
And in fossil-fool America, they, like everything else, must go with maximum noise. All spring and summer, crews of laborers, long ago pushed out of the factories into this new “green,” low-paid job sector, drove the powermowers and spraying rigs and handled the weed-whackers seemingly to drive you out of your mind. But they, or at least their employers, were on a mission - to the golf-course aesthetic to Everyman and Everywoman. (Not to mention Everychild, who will carry the burden of chemical residues far into his or her medical future.
Then the trucks and payloaders and leaf-blowers, along with the occasional leaf vacuum big as a hay baler, became an occupying force. But now as fall winds down, the machine brigades are almost done – they've removed almost all the maple, linden, oak, and sycamore leaves to a Better Place (dump), where someday a neighbor may retrieve a tiny portion of the compost and truck it back to apply to a lawn or garden.
And thus, with another heaping helping of fuel, the biological material will make another costly trip, this time back to its roots, ultimately to do what should come naturally: decompose and enrich the soil.
The next time you hear somebody say “urban forest” - after you get done laughing - consider how odd is our transformation of a highly localized bio-cycle into a deafening microcosm of global trade. I mean, couldn’t the leaves and twigs be composted where they fall, or pretty close to it?
Which is another way of asking: Couldn’t we ditch our lawns and make our urban environment a lot more like the sustainable woodlands we have largely destroyed?
I know that sounds un-American. But considering the nation's recent accomplishments, maybe that's what we must be.