Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Different Landscape

As I was driving home from work the other day I passed a park with a line of trees bordering the edge.  They were all decently big, relatively old-looking trees but they were all equally spaced along the road.  I realized that not too long ago (earth wise, not my lifetime wise) they were just little saplings newly planted.  They probably were no different than the little ones you'd get at Home Depot or something like that.  And yet here they were, undoubtedly a few decades old and growing.  I wish I could've counted the rings and known how fast that growth was.

I found my mind wandering in the way that it does when driving home from work and I wondered what that stretch of road might have looked liked back then.  Or even longer ago.  I doubt that a hundred years earlier there was a road there, there was probably a forest.  Miles of trees where that small line of them was.  And I found myself thinking what that whole chunk of land that was now a well established town looked like.

I've read a little bit about the earth's history.  I understand the basics of geology.  I can wrap my mind around the fact that deserts used to be oceans, mountains used to be shores and almost none of the plants, animals or other familiar sights I take for granted used to be around.  I get all that, on an intellectual level.  But I can't for the life of me begin to imagine what it all looked like.

No urban sprawl, no suburbia stretching out for a radius of fifty miles around any city, no farm land splitting up the vast landscape into multi-colored squares like pieces of construction paper, no grass spreading as far as the eye can see.

The idea that almost 90% of the plants and animals that dominate the landscape now are, basically, weeds that sucked up all the natural resources and outgrew all the original inhabitants is mind-boggling.  And yet, that's all I know.  It's all most people know.

It's amazing how much we take for granted that is so incredibly recent.

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