Having spent the last weeks, through the turning of the year, in mountain wilderness, our eyes, on returning to the highways that run through rural land on their journey to the city, are differently attuned.
At one point we must stop amidst a row of vehicles queuing on account of road works, and my eyes saunter over the surrounding fields. The highway, and our queue of cars, are ambushed by a grain monoculture that spreads relentlessly to the horizon on all sides, turning the landscape of rounded hills into a barrenness of functionality. Already the wildness within which we have lived these last weeks is being banished. My eyes scan the fields with a rising despair; then, suddenly, I spy vestiges of wilderness vegetation, scattered remnants of mountain plant life, still remaining but confined now to narrow strips of diversity running between the monopolies of fields and grains and fences. The landscape of commodification dominates the space so entirely that I have to adjust my seeing even to notice the wild plant life that borders some of the fields. My heart lurches – there, scattered, humiliated, the last of the once proud tribe of wild mountain vegetation breathes in the fumes of pesticides and diesel. We have been living amongst their brethren who still remain in their inaccessible mountain, amongst the limpid waters of streams and light-drenched summits of stone. Now my heart shakes again as the row of cars gears and revs into moving onward once more, and we with it; as we move through the gears, the remnants of scattered wild, refugee now in what was once its home, disappear entirely. In spite of myself, my own seeing is getting lost in the blurring of the way.