I step out my front door, skipping down the sidewalk. The summer’s sun has turned my legs a golden brown; my shoes as usual are untied. Being seven, the only freedom I have is the short walk from my house to my aunt’s house. She lives only a block away and we are connected by railroad tracks. Almost every day I traverse these tracks, the grass growing tall around them. In a neighborhood where every street has the same assembly line look, these railroad tracks set our street apart. A small bit of nature in the city, the vegetation of these tracks is allowed to grow with a freedom often lost in the city.
The dew is still fresh on the grass that lines the tracks. The deep copper color has been worn down after the weight of the thousands of trains that have moved across them. The train only comes a few times a week now; it has been replaced by trucks, airplanes and other modern modes of transportation. In a life surrounded by TVs and video games, these rail road tracks ask my mind to ponder questions of the past. What did this place look like a hundred years ago? Were there always so many houses? What sorts of things have these trains carried?
As I ponder these questions my journey to my aunt’s house moves quickly. I use the tracks like a balance beam, testing my ability to walk the whole way without falling. As I continue to walk, so many things catch my attention. The small carpet of dandelions that most gardeners would detest calls out to me as a blanket of sunshine. A mix of grass and weeds entangle themselves together to form a jungle. Each blade seems to bend in its freedom, not following any well-groomed path. A rabbit moves in front of my path, indifferent to my gaze.
It’s amazing how one small strip of land can turn into a nature preserve. Without a gardener to pick and prod the soil, without a lawnmower to capture the grass, I begin to see nature in a different way. Things others deemed ugly actually played a very special and integral part of nature’s circle. A piece of obsolete technology has become a respite from the seemingly endless amounts of concrete that compose the city. Hundreds of people drive or walk over these tracks everyday, never stopping to contemplate the existence on an environment completely independent of our own.