I live along the Alaska Highway and when I step out of my house I am in the wilderness.
Though I normally live in the wilderness, I can always find a little wilderness wherever I go.
When I lived in The Hague, the North Sea and it’s beaches and dunes were within biking distance.
In Vancouver, the Chinese garden was my favorite place.
Vancouver’s downtown Chinese garden is the least wild of all of those examples. Still, the marvel of this little park is that you can be in the middle of downtown Vancouver with its high-rises and busy streets and walk through a small passageway to be in oasis of peace.
In Calgary, there was an unattended coulee in the middle of our uptown neighborhood.
The coulee in Calgary is an example of true wilderness overlooked. Places like this that fall between the cracks and provide habitats that can support scarce flora.
In Whitehorse, between the High Country Inn and Sport Yukon, pink pyrolas (a most beautiful wildflower, also called pink wintergreen) bloom. I first noticed them several years ago. Nobody planted these flowers; they simply sprang up in a place that escaped the landscapers.
This is a plea for those places, including space that was touched by humans but gets forgotten and slowly turns back into wilderness.
A crack in the asphalt, pushed up by the roots from a nearby tree will begin to grow grass.
A lot that is empty or has a decrepit building on it will soon host plants that like disturbed spaces — like fireweed or dandelions or poplar.
I ask city planners to keep a few spots in Whitehorse that are not built upon or landscaped. Let them be.
Let there be places where things can naturalize; where the wilderness can reclaim what we build — where things can grow crooked, like Yukon artist Jim Robb’s famous leaning buildings.
I am not suggesting outright neglect or dereliction, but rather a light touch —management that allows local native flora a place in the city.
The beautification of our city is not not only about bulldozing lots and putting up apartment buildings, nor is it only about formal manicured gardens and paths.
Beautification also involves making space available for nature to re-colonize abandoned areas. If an empty space isn’t built upon right away, perhaps wilderness will rediscover it. Plants will come, and insects and butterflies will follow. The final result: biodiversity.