The outskirts of the cities that I’ve witnessed over the course of the past week have more and more come to resemble asymmetric warzones.
Farmsteads are surrounded by homogenized condo developments for retiring Torontonians, seemingly constructed in the blink of an eye, the inevitable coffee shops, Walmarts, and banks following in their footsteps. Abandoned lots teem with insurgencies of knotweed, goldenrod, and sumac, while new roads are dynamited through the hills, causing more and more mudslides and erasing any memories of thd remaining forests.
Me and my mom happened to drive through the Red Hill Valley Parkway when going home today. It was a planned road that was resisted for nearly five decades, by your fair share of environmentalists, indigenous groups, and a bunch of other groups, but it finally went through, and was opened in 2007. This may have been the most beautiful stretch of land that I’ve ever seen, the cliffs of old-growth hickories plummeted into verdant marshlands, still teeming with birds and deer. There were some minor ecological restoration initiatives done to lessen the severity of the development, but so much was lost in all of this, it’s heartbreaking.
These lands that encircle the western shore of Lake Ontario have been burned for ash soap, mined for lime, clearcut for gold courses, warships, suburbs, and commodity crops. Vibrancy still lingers in the darkest recesses of this Belgium-sized metropolitan sacrifice zone, even as its most visible incarnations still cling to life on the cliffs, surrounded by the scurrying masses and machines of civilized humanity on all sides. I cannot ignore all that has been lost since the early 19th century, but I don’t know how to move past it, coming to terms with it all is crippling me. It hurts, so damn much, to see everything that you love in the world continously beaten, dissected, run-over, and annihilated. It fills me with fury, but a passive fury, a lifelong groan of grim acceptance.