Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today's too nice to spend it any other way than riding on our bikes.

Riding bikes in the fall is the best. The cool temperatures and colorful scenery make for a pleasant trip wherever you are going. 

My two most prized material possessions in the world are my bike and my backpack. I’ll humor myself and say I’m not hugely preoccupied with consumerism, but I can justify these things. They’re both useful and reusable: I can ride my bike to work and I don’t need to waste gas getting there. My backpack is good at holding everything I need plus some things I don’t. I have no license and no car, so when I really need to escape the dorms, my bike is key in making the 14-mile trip home independently. Carrying books and water that distance would be rough without my backpack. That’s how I accommodate nature; I ride my bike and I don’t use grocery bags because I have one with a lifetime warranty.

 “I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially.” I found this E.B. White quote in the beginning of my copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I feel like the idea of human’s need to dominate nature has been a theme of my environmental classes this semester. Through the building of dams in John McPhee’s Encounters with the Archdruid to the huge diversions of water that rob the Great Lakes in The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin. Even Bill Bryson conquers nature by hiking the mountains of the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods. The latter being a somewhat positive example of man being challenged by the grandeur of nature and overcoming the harsh realities of the outdoors (rodents, bears, insects, inclement weather and MOUNTAINS). Similarly, I love making it to the top of hills on my bike, I try to make that the only way I triumph over nature on a daily basis (though admittedly this is a small victory). Yet Westnedge Hill has a way of sneaking up on me even when I’ve been dreading it all day. For that it will always have my respect. Nature always wins. When we’re gone, the little weeds in the sidewalk cracks will grow so huge they’ll break up parking lots and there will be forests there once again. 

I wish Kalamazoo was like this.

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