21 November 2011

suburban despair...?

Near the Cracker Barrel alongside the Cross County Trail heading into Plymouth Meeting, PA.

Living in Philadelphia without a automobile of my own, I rarely head into the suburban fringe ringing the city except on bicycle rides. The Schuylkill River Trail runs upriver past Valley Forge, at some point in the next few years heading all the way to Reading. The Cross County Trail winds its way north away from the Schuylkill into Plymouth Meeting, through a wetland, past a power plant with a tall smokestack, then quickly into the morass of lightly-planned strip malls, corporate chain stores, and other indicators of upper middle class living in the United States.

What I enjoy about heading out to this area is how visible the infrastructural networks are. There are high voltage electricity lines parading across the fields, and this stormwater management system adjacent to the Cracker Barrel's parking lot is nicely designed and well-maintained. The stormwater retention pond looks almost natural; the willows and other foliage are healthy and doing their job keeping the soil in place through their root structures. 

But that bright red shopping cart, what is it doing keeled over in six inches of water? Did it wash down in the last storm, or was it thrown down from above, the victim of some minor theft? Regardless, the red shopping cart from one of the nearby box stores provides some welcome color into this late fall scene, exposing how this almost-natural-looking landscape is the product of human intervention, down to the abandoned shopping cart laying on its side in the pond.

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