I rode in on the dirty dog, as they call the Greyhound bus, Ohio farm dirt still in my hair. At least I had the sense to clean the cow shit off my boots.
Then I briefly lost my luggage, or so I thought, standing there in the Port Authority of New York. They could call me any name in the book, or even a few that weren’t, but I was stubborn and would not get on that local to London, Connecticut, until I saw my duffle bag stuffed into the compartment underneath the bus.
Despite reassurances that my luggage would catch up with me, I remained steadfast until a man appeared driving the world’s smallest tractor. He pulled behind him a string of small carts with my duffle bag standing up in the first one. He just shook his head as he loaded it into the luggage compartment.
“Sit up front, son,” the driver said. “There aren’t that many passengers on Sunday Morning, not even at port authority. Keep your eyes peeled and I will show you one of the sights not on the official tour.” With those words, he backed the bus out and exited the bowels of that building through a grimy archway.
Born onto that city street, I shielded my eyes from the light and looked to my left. There they were, lined up as they must often beat the precinct. Number three, take one step forward and turn left.
The driver turned his speaker system to public address and said, “Good morning, ladies.” One of them smiled and waved, as the others glared. “They think I’m bad for business,” he said.
They were prettier than I would have expected, dressed in hot pants and leg warmers with the temperature not twenty degrees out. Now that’s dedication.
The story is a performance piece, based on, but exaggerating actual events My writings identify me as a person most at home in the woods, but I have come to appreciate urban environments and realize that even the cityscapes are part of nature, what is sometimes called the “built environment.” Trees grow out of walls, nighthawks circle parking lots hunting insects, and migrating cranes sometimes circle downtown Chattanooga on their way to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. The book, Coming of Age at the End of Nature, with introduction by Bill McKibben and including essays by members of the millennial generation, addresses coming to peace with nature impacted by human activity.
For the Reader:
How do you respond to urban environments?
Where is wilderness in your world?
Do you see nature as ending or enduring?