Grass Grows on the Freeway
by Cynthia Sue Larson
August 23, 2000

grassy road

Just a few years ago, this ramp was a sleek, black lane handling all the traffic flowing into town. All that changed when the California Department of Transportation blocked this old ramp off, and built a new off-ramp.

Every time I drove by the closed off-ramp, I felt refreshed to see green grass starting to push its way up through the asphalt. Most of the times I passed this exit I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I had errands to tend to and appointments to keep. I wished I could drive on this old off-ramp again, and promised myself that one day I'd stop and take a closer look.

I've long wondered what Earth would look like if people left it alone for a few years... would the grass push it's way up through every street and freeway? Would trees stretch out luxuriously to lift the concrete blocks of every city sidewalk?

I watched as the grasses grew taller and taller, and broke through more and more cracks in the road. Even though I was driving by and not stopping, it felt good to witness the waves of time and nature reclaiming the off-ramp as a natural area.

One very special day in July, I kept my promise to visit the ramp. The day was sunny and bright, and I slowed my car so I wouldn't drive right past it. I pulled up along the old exit and put my car in reverse, slowly backing down the deserted road. I parked alongside grasses growing almost as tall as my car and basked in the summer sunshine of this special moment.

I smelled the fragrance of grasses and wild flowers as I stepped out of my car. I examined the road more closely, and saw the asphalt breaking open in cracks to let the seeds, rain, and sunshine down to the earth again.

It just felt good to be here