Here is a patch of greenery where the insects live. Half a decade ago, this place was pure woodland, a stand of mature oak and maple. But then the land was sold for a new development of houses. The people who would occupy the houses needed a road, so a swath of trees was chopped down to make room for a machine that ground up boulders and spit them out as gravel. The gravel, it lay the foundation for a street that would soon get a name and carry commuters (including myself, there is a complicity). The boulders, they had been carved out of the midriff of a cliff, a piece of Canadian Shield once scraped clean by parading ice.
Before long, the machine departed, leaving a bit of razed space. One corner marked a gravesite of dead tree trunks. “Yuck,” I may have uttered. But a year later, mustard took hold. Now, five years on, this strip of wasteland is hip-deep in wildflower, with sumac rising between. Each year, the soil improves, and eventually poplar and birch will arrive. I venture down there, spending a half-hour reacquainting myself with this disturbed terra, poaching photos, my ankles getting scratched. It is a moving landscape dotted with exclamation points of activity, colour and clarity. Bumblebees scout low, seemingly too heavy to lift their bodies higher. Feathery caterpillars dangle from stems, energizing themselves for a surprising future. Grasshoppers magically disappear and reappear with a click of chitin.
In other writings, when I speak of a meadow, I am talking about these very 25 square metres. Can one condemn the premise but praise the result?
No doubt, anywhere else this place would have been grassed over with Kentucky Blue, made to fit some purpose, cleaned up, hauled away, sanitized, picked over, adorned with the heavy petals of over-engineered annuals, golf-coursed, and celebrated. Pavement would be less hypocritical.
Back in the meadow, which is neither a monoculture nor a flat of asphalt, a slight wind blows. Nearby a creek trickles. What a mess of multiplicity. Every strategy of nature is in place – fight and flight, prey and predator, camouflage, symbiosis, and mimicry. When the sun shines, the air smells of honey and butter. I am dizzy with the taste of wild roses and bird nests. I can hear the chemistry of carbon dioxide transforming into oxygen. Oh, there shines another beetle! A baby groundhog emerges from its tunnel for the first time, no longer blind. All is a’whistle, heating up, creeping, absolved. Damaged wings fly by, leaving a trail of blue powder. Deer prints press into the earth. Here, houseflies feel truly at home. Let it be, let it be. Neglect, that’s the ticket. Leave it alone! Leave it alone, and blackberry bushes will rise up to dine with the sky.
Note to readers: at Macro Monday, photographers showcase their close-up photos.