Something always bugs me when I'm here in the U.S. each summer. Well, I suppose a number of things bug me, and most of them I found irksome even before becoming only a part-time resident of the state of Texas. I'll leave the cataloguing of those items for another time. But--I mentioned to Husband the other day as we were taking an evening walk just how sad and ridiculous it is, all these huge yards in suburbia that contain absolutely nothing but grass, weeds, a few shrubs, and maybe some ill-used, decomposing garden furniture. Of course, there are some lovely, effusive suburban yards, but they unfortunately seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Lawns here too often sit in wasteful disuse, while the tiny garden plots and balconies of more densely-populated countries (like, say, Japan!) brim with pots of vegetables, herbs, and beautifully-tended flowers.
Well, today I read an interview in Grist Magazine by David Roberts, not about lawns per se, but about the effects of suburban sprawl in general, which could be said to date to Thomas Jefferson's belief that every American should be able to own a piece of land. Roberts spoke with Anthony Flint, author of the book The Land: The Battle Over Sprawl and the Future of America. It's a thought-provoking interview, and I especially found it so when Flint mentioned that cities are "per capita, the most energy-efficient human settlements." Would you think that New York City could actually be the "greenest" city in America? I found the notion hard to believe until I linked to this article, written by David Owen and published in The New Yorker in 2004. Owen speaks of the"anti-city bias of American environmentalism." Well, amen, brother! If you think that living in Colorado is more environmentally-sound than living in Manhattan, you really should read the article; I found it fascinating and definitely eye-opening. It's also pretty telling that this piece, which considers in depth our country's fossil fuel usage, was written before the advent of the current energy crisis. Read it, and be enlightened--and while you're at it, check out Anthony Flint's book, too.