I love cities.
This may seem like an odd thing to say as I will, in a couple of weeks, move to the country (country? mountains? British Columbia’s Howe Sound has never felt like “country”).
There is something about the concentration of so many humans and all of the brick and mortar required to house and feed and entertain that is so compelling. I especially love cities with abundant parks and green-spaces of many different sizes. Like little oases amongst all of the concrete. Sometimes you happen upon such a pond of flora accidentally, and it’s like a little gift.
Right now, with the flowers blooming and spring overtaking Vancouver, it’s hard not to appreciate the new growth, and to get just a little excited for the growing season to come. I passed a fir tree this morning that had new tips on it. Fir tips are delicious, and when I see them I’m always tempted to harvest a few.
One of my favorite thing about cities is their density — there are innumerable things to look at. One can walk down a single city block thirty times and see thirty different things, and then stop, and really stare: and see one hundred more. Layers upon layers upon layers of man-made fabrication. Cities fascinate because they are full of the detritus and very essence of human life. There is a voyeuristic joy that comes from observing the intimate details of others… clothes on a clothes-line, a car up on blocks, a worn rocking chair on a porch, or a half-dug garden.
Of course, walking in nature affords a similar joy. I love that too. One can stare at a landscape for hours and still not see every detail. Wilderness is serene but truly a little alien in its beauty. We did not create it; it is not of us, and although we are of it, it never feels like something that can be subjugated, or tamed. In the wilderness, I often feel like an ant. In cities, surrounded by the creations of humans, I feel like an emperor. Neither is good nor bad, right or wrong, but both can be powerful feelings.
For the next two weeks, I am in the city, and so for now I enjoy the feeling of royalty; the feeling that I live in a grand empire built from the ingenuity of mankind. I can go for a walk just around the block and see one hundred little details, one hundred little examples of that ingenuity, of culture, of social bonds, of rebellion, of love and anger and hope and hatred and happiness and sadness and the whole spectrum of what we know to be life, played out in a billion little details, objects, and scenes. And that is wonderful.