As much as I like the outdoors, nature as it is and should be, and am a supporter of rewilding in many of its various forms, I find the human imprint on the natural world fascinating. And also how the human world is taken over by nature and dominated once again. The most obvious and well known example of this is probably Chernobyl.
It is amazing that in the years since the disaster nature has reclaimed it so rapidly. I vaguely remember it happening on the news. A lot of high profile disasters seemed to happen around that time in the 1980s. We watched the Challenger space shuttle explode at our local youth club, the famine on Ethiopia was still very clear in peoples consciousness, a small town in south west Scotland was to become famous for all the wrong reasons. Piper Alpha was not far off. Hillsborough.
In Chernobyl in 2022, animals thrive. Brown bears, wolf, lynx, roe deer, elks, foxes and wild boar roam freely through the Ukrainian villages. Wolves are, as always, of particular interest and they hunt deer, catch fish and even eat fruit from orchards. Horses, having been introduced to reduce the risk of wild fires by grazing the overgrowth, have adapted to the environment and live in the exclusion zone. The abandoned buildings are used as animal shelters. Small mammals tested show no ill effects of radiation. Amazing.
“In the world I see you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockafeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.” Tyler Durden.
There is a town not far from where I live that doesn’t exist anymore. A scattering of houses yet are nearby, yet there is plenty of industrial remains if you look closely at the landscape. An extremely successful ironworks and prosperous town once stood here but nothing remains except contusions in the ground, a chimney stack, and perhaps unsurprisingly in Scotland, the ruin of a pub. Quite literally the last building standing.
Nature has reclaimed this land. Yes there are some paths and a few monuments and guides, very tastefully done, to the industrial heritage of the area and the human achievement that came from there. But there is long grass, burns, woodland, big trees, shrubs, bushes and you would never guess the population or the output of this place several hundred years ago.
Currently listening to: The new single from Destroyer 666.
Trees break up the pavements
Roots come through the concrete
And take over older roots
Wrapped around, entwined forever, eternal.
A building left alone
Succumbs to moss, to weeds
And crumbles back to the earth
It came from. Goodbye home.
I worked here once, here everyday
With heat sweat muscle noise, smoke and fire,
friends and relatives,
And now. Nothing?