Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Can't Nobody Hold Me Down...Oh no, I got to keep on movin


I can remember walking through Manhattan for most of my life thinking that people must have planted all the trees and plants throughout the streets, but now I realize that for most of my life, all plants were the same and I never thought twice about their origin or diversity.  It never occurred to me that some of this natural green was actually still fighting a battle in an age old war between New York City and nature.   Without even the simplest level of understanding or desire to see individuality, things can look similar and unfortunately, this can lead to some pretty narrow-minded thinking and potentially stereotyping or grouping.  Living in the hustle of New York City, it is easy to forget that the city was completely created by man, but that the land it sits on was once almost all natural, even some farmland hundreds of years ago.  Empty of concrete slabs, streetlights, buildings  and almost 9 million people.  Even with all that history hidden under tons of asphalt, nature still pokes its head out constantly reminding us that...

we are not as tough as we think.  

Walking through the city on a rainy Sunday I noticed this Amaranth (AKA Amaranthus Retroflexus or pigweed) fighting it's way through the cracks in the sidewalk.  What was once a seemingly unnoticeable sight became something magnetic to me.  I couldn't take my eyes off it and being an invasive weed at the farm, I couldn't help my gut reaction to pull it out of the ground.  Nevertheless, I held strong and refrained myself from unnecessarily weeding the New York City streets.

Although it doesn't look like this amaranth has a chance of surviving more than a few days here before street sweepers, building owners or enough dog urine kill this valiant plant, there is something incredible happening that shows signs of hope for survival.  You can clearly see the cone-like flower protruding from the center of the amaranth's stem and green leaves.  This is where the seeds are located proving that although struggling to survive or even find the slightest bit of soil to grow in, this amaranth will release and spread hundreds of tiny black seeds just as the amaranth plant before it had done. Those seeds, once dropped, will begin their own journey to either perish at the fate of some luxurious high heal, screeching taxicab tire or mysteriously find its way to another rare patch of soil in this concrete jungle.

Looking at the city from my apartment window I notice a funny juxtaposition of these beautiful tall green trees smack in between the cluster of buildings.  Both standing hundreds of feet tall, both fighting for the same space, both grown through hard work and energy.  We may think we can easily escape nature, but time is relative and just think if we leave the city unattended for even a few months we can see how quickly nature will take back its land.  I never realized how laborious and expensive it was for the city to maintain itself all in order to prevent nature from doing what it does best.


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