Disturbed places is how Vessel and Wong describe vacant lots. At the very beginning they state, "A town or city is a disturbed natural area modified drastically by humans to accommodate their own needs." At the writing of the book they could fairly state, "Most of the natural organisms that once flourished on the urban site have been pushed out by people." This is certainly not the case today, at least not in Akron, and long abandoned areas of the Great Lakes hugging rust belt.
The first time I laid eyes on the land that Pat and I would eventually own was about 10 years ago. It formed part of the eastern edge of the Towpath trail that is a part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Before that it had been one of the neighborhoods that Great Migration folk had settled upon arrival in the North. I drove slowly down Hickory St. I carefully skirted a prickle of ground hogs (yes, this is the collective noun) lounging on the asphalt. Deer roamed the places where houses had stood. Chipmunks ran amok, twitching and scurrying from hole to hole. Hawks circled. An impressive array of birds sang, hunted and raised their young. This was before eminent domain took what little housing remained standing.
|N. Maple St. Tree|
And I will, in regular installments throughout the summer as I explore the micro-environment of my wooded hillside as well the other meanings of "natural history" and "disturbed places" for what we hope will become an urban sanctuary.