Without us

Last year I got a bit obsessed with the book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which is about, basically, the world without us.  It turns out that some things will decay very quickly and get taken over by plants and the other animals  – you’d be amazed by how quickly your house would be taken once you’ve left it, seeds blow in, rain finds cracks and seeps through to cause mould and decay, footpaths crumble, skyscrapers quickly become new habitats for the animals repopulating the city, covered in plants like that roof in Darlinghurst that’s covered in swaying grass. Other things, like plastic, will stay around for a long long time, changing the evolutionary course of living things long after we’ve gone. Maybe it’s comforting to think that all our rising concrete and steel is not impervious to something older, more organic, more elemental and magical than our tricksy new technologies. You know how you feel when you’re really thirsty but  instead of having water you decide you really need coffee,  I don’t know, it seems sometimes we get like that as a whole: we want so much what is bad for us and we have this hyper, skittering need for growth for more, this shiny high, when the whole time we forget we need water to survive. I’m thinking about this because I found this video which is a time lapse of LA without cars by Ross Ching and more than anything I found it kind of peaceful, without all our freneticism and movement: we live so much in a mechanical world, the quiet is nice.

This Morning

When I left the house this morning there were two crows on the road, hunched over a dead cat. Every time those strong beaks pulled at the grey fur and flesh there was a twang of snapping mucsle. It was so visceral, all gore, and like a million piles of road kill I’ve seen before at home in the country. But not here, not in my overpriced, well dressed enclave of harbourside suburbia. I never expected to live here, I feel much more at home in the grimy, cafe choked suburbs that cluster around the university. The suburbs my grandparents grew up in and my great grandparents lived and I first found my feet in in my reverse treechange flight to the city. Continue reading


On the train this morning. There is a little boy in front of me, face up against the window as we go over the bridge, in nose pressed against the glass, open mouthed, unabashed, wide eyed wonder. There is so much to see and he can’t take it all in: a ferry, the opera house, the water, buildings, the shining and sparkling and the sky and the colours – his hands are tapping at the window like he could break it and just fly off into the filled up euphoric beauty beauty of it all. I’ve noticed that when the train streams out of the tunnel onto the bridge at Wynyard all the blank faced sleep deprived commuters sit up straighter, turn their eyes to the light. But right now, coming home at sunset, I’m sitting on the train going over the bridge and the sky is this amazing tangerine like you could drink it and the city is a honeycomb of gold light, but mostly people are reading, playing on their phones, I’m writing.

When did we become so uninterested: too cool, too tired, too jaded, too distracted, to soak in amazement and bliss like the kid this morning? When did we stop noticing?