Urban Forest

Concrete Jungle

Rural suburbia and the most urban of cities: totally opposite, right? Trees versus buildings, traffic and crowds versus wide open fields with your solitary self as far as the eye can see— worlds apart. But I’ve found that although the details may be different, not all experiences are opposite.

Peeling back the radiator in my Brooklyn apartment, fingers and legs ready to spring back in dreaded anticipation of its hidden underworld—decades-old dirt, how many spiders, what kinds of bugs, will there be cockroaches?—is like the skin-crawling curiosity of lifting a heavy rock to inspect what life is teeming in the cool, damp soil beneath.

Navigating big puddles when crossing streets, hoping that that little triangle of pavement is elevated enough to keep your foot dry is the same as hopping over a marshy field. You have to pick rocks which will not shift and tumble you off, or tufts of grass that are hopefully dense enough so your foot won’t sink into the wet ground.

Walking in the forest, pushing branches and bushes out of the way, stepping over roots and around fallen trees, being swiped by a spider web full in the face: this takes the same attention as navigating construction-strewed streets of the Lower East Side: around roadblocks, through scaffolding tunnels, over broken sidewalks, avoiding that air conditioner drip.

And in the city, early- to mid-morning when the light shines at an angle, it filters through skyscrapers and glass windows and alleyways, playing on textures and gradients like sunlight filtered through leaves and between trees and mountains.

The biggest difference that truly has no equal in either is the crowded community chaos versus still, wide-open solitude. But the feeling of being utterly alone or connected with everything is equally as likely in either.

Brooklyn Bridge snakes

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