Monday, October 20, 2008

Burnham Park

Wild sunflower

I have the good fortune to live less than a mile from a small park which is reconstituted prairie land. When I first saw this park from Lake Shore Drive, a high speed road paralleling Lake Michigan, I couldn't figure out what the six foot weeds were about. I thought it was a planned commuter parking lot that was getting overgrown.
Now I'm a semi-regular visitor. It is amazing. Thousands of cars go by a few feet away yet if you tune out the traffic noises you could be in prairie land of 200 years ago. The native grasses and flowers are a couple of feet taller than I am. The area teems with birds. I've seen several species of sparrows, an American kestrel, a flicker and some other miscellaneous woodpeckers, some towhees, red winged blackbirds and the usual urban birds (sea gulls, crows and house sparrows). The park has a wooded area as well so there is a nice range of plant and animal life. The crickets and cicadas don't quite screen out the street noise on the east and the freight trains on the west but it is still a peaceful place.

Sparrow

Walking about the park tends to make me muse about the place of humans in the world. I feel at times proud on behalf of humanity that we have rescued this little bit of prairie land. Then my focus shifts and I wonder what I am thinking. A miniature plot of land preserved for birds and wild plants out of all the acreage destroyed by people?

Natural Born Pollinator

I heard on the news today that wild chimpanzees are more endangered than previously thought. Our nearest relative! If they ever rose to be the dominant species would they slaughter most of the species on the planet too?
Is my miniature prairie nothing but a zoo without fences? Are humans truly capable of change? Wouldn't the world be better off without us? Selfishly I'm not volunteering to be the first to vacate my own little plot of land and forgo my own personal share of emissions.
Nature makes me pensive but sometimes a bit too philosophical for my own good. Does it do the same to you?

2 comments:

Eric Allix Rogers said...

I live a stone's through from the park, and have still never been after a whole year of living here. It's really embarrassing. Thanks for the pretty reminder!

A Free Man said...

I get depressed sometimes watching the slow destruction of 'nature' for sprawling subdivisions with houses built virtually on top of each other. So much so that I taught Malthus in my Biotechnology course this week, didn't really apply but it was on my mind.

But like you, I'm not willing to give my patch of it back. It's a frustrating conundrum.