It finally happened. Nature was declared legally wrong.
Just around the corner from where I live, on the edge of Copenhagen where the city ends and a protected nature area begins, there used to be a pond. This was the result of digging a large pit intended to take some of the burden away from the sewage system. Rainwater flowed in there from storm drains.
It made sense at the time. The entire neighborhood is at risk of flooding (something which I found out in dramatic fashion about a year ago). The protected nature area is also home to a number of newts, water salamanders, dragonflies, frogs, herons, and migratory species that use its bogs. Once the pit filled up with water, it also filled up with life.
The local school saw this as a gift. Ecology classes would take place at the pond. Kids roamed and explored. The fifth graders even built a surprisingly sturdy bridge with 2×4’s over a crossing.
And then, the Nature Conservation Society raised a complaint to the authorities. Claiming the pond was “the wrong kind of nature” for the area. And the city agreed.
Now, I need to point out that there are very good reasons why tampering with an ecosystem without doing your research is a bad bad idea. But we’re not talking about introducing rabbits to Australia here. There’s several such ponds throughout the area. But “our” pond was declared illegal on the grounds that the muddy grassland it occupied was protected territory (it is not. The border lies a couple of hundred yards away). This was a niche in an ecosystem that had supported it just fine for years.
Still, the excavators came. They killed off all life there over 24 hours and turned both the pond AND the edge of the protected area into a muddy wasteland of tracks, broken plants, and frog corpses.
And then, came the rain.
Cold. Relentless. The kind of rain that feels like the end of the world, that makes you wonder whether the gods are fed up once more with our kind.
Day after day after day.
Water flowed into the destruction. Swallowed it up. A small pool formed where the pond used to be. It got bigger over the days and nights. Wider. By the time the rain let up after four days, a pond three times the size of the old one glistened and rippled.
On that fourth night, as I was riding past on my bicycle, eyes squinting against the wind and with the clouds finally breaking, my headlamp caught a heron standing in the middle of the pond. A sliver of white against ink black. It didn’t pay attention to me. Only looked into the dark distance, as if contemplating this act of resurrection.
In my mind, it smirked. And I smirked with it.