Periodically I write and rage against global and local environmental destruction. Occasionally, I make posts about local plants, what I’m growing, what I’ve seen, what they are, what function they perform. Today I’m sad to be doing both at the same time.
The city sees plants, even flowering plants, above ten inches as weeds. I see wildflowers, I see plants that would cover city dirtied soil, that secure the O Horizon against flooding washout, that make some amends against the island effect by shading the ground from the most intense heat. The city doesn’t care. The city sees weeds.
For a place I recently lauded for having a semi-apocalyptic level of maintenance, the bureaucracy is surely quick to find fault in home owners, what few there are of us remaining. Harrisburg offers scant benefits to those who own houses. We bear the brunt of the taxes and are saddled with the greatest number of rules. Renters and businesses, by contrast, have a free hand.
I spent four to six hours out of each of the days since saturday cutting back my yard. With the trees gone, the undergrowth became prodigious, carpeting both my front and back plots with a knee high carpet of soft and multifaceted green. A neighborhood cat liked to hide in the back, often popping out from seemingly nowhere just a foot from my feet. Poke weed, a PA native, had rendered my front yards miniature forests, vividly yellow-green, black-purple, and gold. Never mind the attractiveness or the usefulness, the city saw weeds. They’ll let a man tear down trees to put in a hideous driveway, or allow the building of a structure too tall for the supporting roads to handle, but they won’t abide plant growth.
This city is dying, in more ways than one.
Right now I’m too angry to be optimistic. Too tired from physical labor and laborious frustration. I know there are things I can do, I know there are ways to replace the biomass that I’ve lost with other plants, ones that don’t grow so tall and that obscure my yard. I know that what I’ve cut will regrow.
I only wish the city were capable of seeing beyond balloon construction and short-term benefit to the establishment of a permanent city community and a livable space for it to dwell.