Perhaps my fascination stems from the 1949 classic book by George Stewart: Earth Abides, a dystopic tale of the demise of all but a few humans and what Earth does without us. The book was formative for me, and I read it four or five times while in high school. I have always wondered what the land was like when it was still wild, before we started pouring concrete... and what it would be like again if we just stopped doing what we do.
In the book, the main character, Ishmael, decides to travel across the US to find signs of human
beings who survive a catastrophic epidemic . He takes Route 66. Something as simple as a tree falling across the road renders the route impassable. In the scheme of things, eventually all the concrete get reclaimed by forest and prairie and the story is as much about what Earth does without "man" (remember the book was written in 1949) as it is about the small cadre of humans that survive and try to recreate civilization.
Today, Route 66 has been replaced by a four lane interstate and, of course, the turnpikes. All of the abandoned sections of old Route 66 are being reclaimed by nature, the first phase of this reclamation is taken on by the most aggressive weeds poking through cracks in the pavement. With each winter freeze and spring rain, cracks grow wider and deeper. Soon, trees may sprout.
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