Jan 6, 2009
City Girl Going Back to London
I'm leaving Cornwall after two weeks of non-London life. I'm quite ready to return to my urban lifestyle. I've loved my long walks with Ester, but I generally like city living. It's been great to have a break from London, particularly all the cars. It takes about 7 minutes to get to the awesome footpaths in Penryn. We don't have those in London.
Human history is deep on this island. I appreciate it in the city, where the odd plaque stating who lived at this address in the 18th century makes me smile. But when I leave the city, I pack my US perception of 'the country', of the wild. I try not to romanticize wilderness in my explorations of geography and conservation. I'm not a John Muir style absolutist. But there's no denying that roaming the woods of Georgia, exploring caves in Missouri, and getting lost along coasts, deserts and forests of the West has fostered in me a desire to escape human influence in the wild. As I walk and walk and walk with Ester, I feel myself looking for that sort of solitude, that level of escape, with all its challenges and threats. But this land is conquered, domesticated.
What's survived is amazing and a testament to land stewards on this island. But I have to consider what's been lost as well. I do that with thoughts of Georgia's deforestation. I think of California disappearing under concrete. North America is just one huge island. With ever increasing population and industry, I wonder how we're going to avoid domesticating our diverse wildlands. England is beautiful, but I want California wild, not divided by hedgerows.
I'm not saying that this densely populated island isn't worth conservation or unique in its own right. I devoted myself to urban habitat restoration and the density of the UK was a pull for me to study here. There's some nifty stuff here. And seeing winter has been great. (But it's cold as fuck now and I've had enough. Winter be gone. Please.) This rain rich region certainly held greater diversity in the past. I find myself wondering to what degree we'll follow that same pattern of biodiversity loss in the US, in the world.
I hear we might see oil rigs off the Cali coast in as few as three years. Really? That just sounds like a crazy continuation of a deadly cycle to me. I've started thinking of the world in terms of human created hazards lately. I might map it but it would take a bit of research and I theoretically have papers to write so don't hold your breath. But basically I was thinking of the world in terms of paved areas, massive waste sites, mines (think mountain top removal), dam reservoirs, desertification, deforestation, etc. Basically, mapping large scale land scars. With hyperbole. For now it's a head piece.