A self-professed nature lover, I adore wild trees with their branches untamed, flowers scattered about, and squirrel-bitten fruits ripening in various stages. Something about unpruned nature gets me excited every time I see it. Whenever I see manicured plants in the various housing apartments in my locality, I cringe and pass silent judgement at those who resort to a vain attempt at getting close to nature.
Regardless of my disdain, however, I realised that I appreciated the same practice when I saw it in the US. Not because it’s a foreign country and that I wouldn’t say anything against such a global leader—no. A dissenter, I can vent about the country at length. But that’s not for now. But the real reason I enjoyed organised nature in the US is because for the first time, I saw it done in style and in clear consideration. It was in Dublin, a small locality in the Pleasanton area of California.
The first thing that struck me about Dublin and the rest of Pleasanton is how clean the place is. I’d seen far shabbier localities in San Francisco city, so I knew Pleasanton did something different. It was when my colleague mentioned that Pleasanton is a planned city, that it dawned on me what an artificial place I was at.
Nothing about Pleasanton seemed natural. I began to notice the little things that came from elsewhere, planted and pieced together to form the city. From the trees that lined the footpaths to the pebbles that added beauty and glint, not a twig was out of its place. Shrubberies grew well within their borders, leaves stuck to their branches, and all fruits at the same stage of ripeness.
Regardless of all that, I still enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood. I didn’t know why at first, but the more I explored, the more I understood. Dublin is a rich neighbourhood. Most of its population has passed middle age and is considering settling down and retirement plans. Since a lot others are either business owners or high-level corporate employees, they don’t need to haggle to get through each day. They, unlike people in unplanned cities, can afford to demand perfection. They’re so accustomed to having things their way that improperness gets on their nerves. The whole town, for instance, shuts off at about 9:30 pm. Nightlife is almost non-existent in the streets and silence rings louder than a foghorn.
All of this was new for me. I’d never before shared privileges that the Dublin folk takes for granted. And that’s why the perfection and drastic change of scenery impressed me. Walking by house after house, each competing with the other in terms of class and bigness, I gawked in surprise. Walkways were seamless, street signals on time, traffic rare, and drivers polite. While I admired in wonder at everything I saw, it was as if nothing could surprise the locals. They’re used to everything being the way it is—designed without a single flaw.
Did I cherish my time in Pleasanton? Of course, I did. I felt elite and rich. Although I don’t see myself living in such an environment (until perhaps I’m 60 and cranky about petty things) it was wonderful nevertheless.
Oh, and though authorities count and account for each tree, the sunlight glittering through them is a sight worth beyond words.