Weeds are feral plants, the bane of gardeners and pavers. They thrive in the most inhospitable settings, taking root in the sooty dust that collects in cracks, taking over abandoned urban spaces with remarkable speed, breaking concrete and reclaiming mankind’s barrens for the kingdom of plants.
Weeds may be glorious wildflowers or medicinal herbs, thistles, grasses or ivies. The kind that thrive in cities often seem to have forms that are ragged, jagged, scribbly, electric. They’re tough and prickly, like many urban dwellers.
In our uncertain time, everything seems to be breaking down. Industrial civilization defines prosperity only as growth, but the limits to growth are looming everywhere. Population and consumption of resources have exploded. The atmosphere is running a fever. Our food and all our technology are built on reservoirs of oil that may be running dry. Our financial system is metastatic, a cancer growing on the real economy. Our political system is sclerotic, too beholden to moneyed interests to act for the common good. Bold change will not come from our leaders, but only from our forced adaptation to catastrophes.
Such times will be hard for vast monocultures, and for hothouse flowers (and I do intend those as human metaphors). Such times call for weedy spirits, for those that can find their earthly grounding even in the decaying manufactured world, and who burst with green power, determined to reassert the forces of life.
I took all the photos in this post in New York City, over the last seven years.