Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sometimes the Trees Win

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where once-pampered pantheons come to get their groove back! Have you been worshipping the same god as long as you've had that hairdo? Whoa, Joe. Time for a change!

A friend of mine who lives near Washington, DC emailed me the link to a story about Appalachia.

Okay, watch Annie botch the link:

If this works it'll be a first. So I'll recap in a few words.

Along the North Branch of the Potomac River, there used to be coal towns, some with post offices and schools, that are completely gone now. As in, swallowed by green stuff that seems to want to grow everywhere, if we just let it.

With all the despicable sprawl that our savage species sows, it's amazing to realize that, some places, trees are fighting back. This is particularly true in Appalachia, where small-town coal miners moved on when the seams dried up and where farms failed and were abandoned or bought out by the government for state forests and national parks.

One time my dad showed me a picture of our family farm that had been taken in about 1925. The entire property was covered with fields, here and there a windbreak. That same property now consists almost entirely of pine and oak forest. Forest, mind you. Piney woods where you can take shelter from a snowstorm.

When I was a kid, log houses two stories tall stood here and there along hiking trails on Polish Mountain. My dad knew the people who had lived in them. Those houses are all gone now, not a trace left, even the graveyards swallowed by the forest.

It's a modest comeback for Mother Nature, given the pressures everywhere to slap down asphalt for another Wal-Mart. But it does happen. Where people leave, plants generally move back in.

Maybe I'm the only person who has ever stood on Fifth Avenue and wondered how long it would take plant life to reclaim Manhattan Island. If you have an educated guess, please share it with me.

Less that two weeks until Faerie Con! If you love faeries, Philadelphia should be your destination on October 12-14. See you there!


Thalia said...

Well, I don't have a guess, but I have a guess as to who might know--though unfortunately I can't remember the guy's name, and I don't seem to know enough to find him through Google. He was a guest on the Daily Show (last month? maybe?) and he had written a book just about that, the earth without humankind, and how long it would take for nature to reclaim things. Not very long, really. Does anyone remember the guy's name, or the title of his book? I do remember the cover art (of course); it was a city skyline whose reflection was a forest.

Don't know if that helps at all!

buddydon said...

i bleeve the book is 'the world without us' by alan weisman at this lank:

tiz a fassinatin subjeck.

BBC said...

Well, lets see, cement cures for fifty years, and then it takes many more years to erode so it would be around for hundreds of years. Asphalt is easier to break up and get rid of in nature, at least spread it around in little chunks.

But to answer your question. Working around the cement, about ten years.