On Nature

On a sunny and windy afternoon I sit down on the grass surrounded by fields of reed in Diemerpark, an urban park located in district Amsterdam-Oost, quarter IJburg. Until 1973, Diemerpark used to be a garbage dump. The district decided to impolder IJburg as this new quarter couldn’t use a garbage dump. They chose to wrap the contaminated soil in bentonite and foil, instead of applying soil remediation. Since 2004, the city park has been open for everyone. The reason I have chosen this particular park is because it is a very quiet and conversational site, where I often walk my relatives’dog. It is nice to be in a socially constructed nature site such as Diemerpark, and really be confronted with industrialization. The park itself is very large and low constructed, so you are able to see factories and electricity pylons that are 2,5 kilometers away from you. While sitting on grass, together with the sun shining in my eyes, I observe some things that actually really characterize Diemerpark as a socially constructed site of nature. In front of me, I see the house of my relatives across IJmeer. In the distance when I turn my face to the right, I recognize large factories by their heavily smoking chimneys. Behind me Amsterdam Rijnkanaal is located, and every 5 minutes when I look to my left, I see tram 26 crossing the bridge. In a radius of 100 meters there is nobody but me. It is about 6 degrees Celcius, and the wind is blowing really hard. The reed around the IJmeer bends along with the wind. Suddenly, a swarm of starlings flies in the mostly cloudy sky. The birds are singing, and I see some rabbits crossing the grass fields. Diemerpark is full of rabbits, I noticed, because of the huge amount of rabbit holes. A man walks his dog along the path ahead of me, and the rabbits run away scared from the dog. The dog barks and runs happily and plays with the rabbit holes. Some people are riding their bike along the same path. Another dog comes along, this time it is the dog of two children, around the age of fourteen, I guess. They throw a stick for the dog to play with him. It is almost spring, coots are nesting in the reed at the coast of IJmeer. For the last time, tram 26 passes me by.

The reason I consider Diemerpark as nature is because there are more animals than humans, and because it is quiet. It is accessible for both animals and humans. To me it is realistic to be at a place that feels like nature while seeing factories in the distance. This is how the world is at the moment. People have manipulated nature and the world. I know that this park is constructed by humans, so this site is not in itsoriginal state, however I still consider it nature because “we’’humans are nature. In this world, it is hard to find an innate piece of nature, in which we humans haven’t intervene yet. But as I said, we are humans and we are animals so why should we something we constructed as nature not consider nature? This is a hard question to answer, because you have to define nature. I consider nature as a space where everybody finds peace, it doesn’t matter if it is constructed by humans or not. There is no need to segregate human society from the ’natural world’, because both the concepts are interacting with each other. Diemerpark is nature and thus socially constructed. It is created to provide the habitants of IJburg with a park instead of a garbage dump and by that, making the quarter IJburg more attractive for people considering living there. My expectations correspond with my observation, as I have already been at the park several times. I expected to see some rabbits, birds, factories and people, and feel peace. Maybe the reason why my expectations correspond with my observation is because I interpret this site with those expectations. What I mean is that I may be excluding some events because I am focusing on the events that I expected. This corresponds with a quote from my Introduction to Human Geography textbook: ’the landscapes of nature are understood as ’ways of seeing’the world in which the ’real’and’imagined’are intricately interwoven.’(p157.)

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