Landscape as Nature: Britton Plaza

The songs of birds are eclipsed by the roaring of trucks and cars behind me. While I see leaves on the ground before me and grass on the hills to my right, florescent light bulbs cast unnatural shadows upon those things around me. What was this place like when it was once pristine? Cicadas humming on prairies and bison grazing in the background. The moon casting its natural light on the peaceful grasses and forests below. Mother Earth in its intact state, supporting ecosystems that coexist and are connected as they once were for millennia.

The only humans in sight are Native American Tribes that have come to live in harmony with the natural landscape. They revere these lands as not theirs, but rather as a part of them. Their symbiotic relationship allows for the natural functions of the land to remain nearly untouched. The trees that I see before me today which are isolated and merely used as ornaments were once bountiful and commanding of this territory. Wild flowers have gone from being in the soil of the earth to being planted in pots and rows. The grassy mounds of Britton Plaza, while still retaining their natural shape, have more than likely been fertilized only for aesthetic purposes.

Natural soils have turned to scattered mulches, and what was once ordinary characteristics of this land have only been brought back to appease the eyes of those who walk our campus grounds. And as the air around me smells of manmade pollution and horns of cars fill my ears, I cannot help but ask one thing: are we humans not from and still a part of nature? I know that the environment that we have created and destroyed is from our own doing, but just like the Native Americans, are we still not dependent upon these lands? Our transformation is unnatural in the sense that it has been done by the hands of humans, but is a bird’s nest unnatural in this sense then too?

With no doubt in my mind, I can say that what we have done and are doing to the earth is in a sense unnatural. However, perhaps it is more that we have simply forgotten our inherent connection to the Earth as our Mother. We have transformed Her into a subservient mass that is now focused on giving us what we want, rather than what we need. We are no longer coexisting with the other parts of the earth that were once free and lived amongst these lands. But when you take a moment to truly listen, look, and feel the remaining bits of nature around us, you will realize that it is all still here.

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