I was amused to run into this Flickr/Instagram photograph of a beautiful sunset over a subdivision of suburban McMansions. The tag on the photo: “Suburbia has awesome sunsets too | #shareyoursunset #sky #McMansions.”
This short commentary can be tied to how suburbs are often portrayed. The suburbs are often caricatured as bland or ordered in a mass-produced way or messy places but rarely as beautiful. Even though the suburbs were originally intended to be a way to combine nature and residences (particularly compared to the dirty cities of the Industrial Revolution), this idea has been lost today. The newest subdivisions tend to be flat places where the existing trees and topography have been leveled for human residences. (However, it is interesting to look at older subdivisions, say those built in the two decades after World War II, and see their more mature trees. Are these neighborhoods now more beautiful simply due to the passage of time?)
This also goes beyond nature. Think of popular culture depictions of suburbs that tend to have a similar storyline: “this suburban family/street/community looks put together but once you dig below the surface, you find all sorts of flaws.” (This is not just limited to suburban stories.) Outside of home interiors (often the focus of magazines and television shows), where is there beauty in suburbs?
Yet, the sky is not completely obscured by suburban subdivisions so perhaps for just a few moments, the suburbs too can be a place where natural beauty is revealed.