It’s in the Trees!
Posted by Dirck on 8 September, 2015
Labour Day this year was more than usually labour-intensive. My parents have moved out of the house they’ve occupied since 1968, and this weekend saw the… pre-penultimate push, as it turns out, of getting the decades of accumulated “hey, that might be useful later” out of the place. Among these items was a post-card, which I took with me to a foreign country as the thing I’d send on arrival to prove I’d gotten off the plane intact.
I have never understood how anyone could have chartered a plane, taken a bunch of pictures from it, and looking at the results said, “Ah, that’s the one for the tourists!” because it not only suggests a very pokey Central Business District (true, and something city council has been working on since the late 1970s) and a train-centric geography (also somewhat true– lacking a major river, we’ve made it hard to get across the city by artificial means), but it only hints at one of the things this city should be justly proud of.
Happily, the parents’ new digs are well up in a high-rise, so I can get my own camera to sufficient altitude to give a sense of this city’s greatest asset. Have a look.
Some people will say, “Trees. Big deal.” Fair enough. However, what you’re looking at there is actually the city in which I live, and which in the department of trees is something I think most cities should seek to emulate. This is not to say that I think no other cities have trees, but I know many urban environments that are a little shy in the greenery department. Let’s pull the camera back a touch, and then I’ll explain myself a little further.
It’s a little more obviously inhabited at this magnification. What’s also evident, up towards the top of this shot, is that when you run out of city, you run out of trees. This city is smack in the middle of a vast steppe, and it was once said that every tree here was planted by someone. This is no longer the case, as there’s some objects in my own back yard that got there in the usual way of nature (and weren’t there when we moved in), but it’s definitely a case of one invasive species bringing other with it.
I should also own up to this photo being taken from relatively near the edge of the city, and looking outward rather then towards the wonderful collection of roof-bearing items in the post-card. That’s because I could stand on a balcony to take this, while the view towards city centre has some window-screen interference. However, since we’re not here for art particularly, let’s have a look at a panorama of the west, north and north-east parts of my home town, c. within the past month.
The oil refinery really makes the place, doesn’t it? One of the reasons I started with the angle I did is that the foreground for all of these is a vast park that takes up something like a five percent of the area of the city. However, you can’t really see where the park ends and the standard detached single-family dwellings that make up the most of the city’s footprint begin, because a yard without a tree is hardly to be found. Consider also that the spacing of those dwellings is considered by people from many other places in North America to be scandalously tight– I’ve never lived in a house that was more than two metres from its neighbour, and it’s not hard to find places in the more tree-intensive parts of town, the old and established places just south-west of the horrid-looking post-card, where you can walk between houses and keep a hand on each of them without straightening your elbows. I watch with amazement house-finding shows in which people look out a window across a space sufficient for three tennis courts and lament at how close the next house over is.
My point, because I admit I wander a little: trees are awesome. I love living in a city in which it is hard to tell from a low altitude that there is a city. I think that this vast forest, made by people, is what keeps the people here as tolerable as they are. I’m not alone in this opinion, and I could wish the whole world’s population could spend at least part of the year under a nice leafy canopy like the one I’m lucky enough to get non-fiduciary benefits from for nearly six months of the year.
In about a week, I’ll be grumbling at how they’ve all shed their leaves too early, the deciduous cowards.