Missing the Target
With a string of cool, dry, fall-like days recently, I overcame my lingering fear of deer ticks and gave in to my desire to get back to Moose Hill. I slept in a little in the wonderful sleeping weather so I didn’t leave home until nearly . I made my usual PBJ and brewed a pot of
Instead of my usual plunge down the hill toward the train station, I headed down
The future home of our mall butts up against
At this time, the construction site looked like a large clearcut with an orange plastic fence around the entire perimeter. Unlike a silvicultural clearcut, no forest trees will ever grow here again. Developers just love to hop on their machines and strip a site bare to create a self-fulfilling prophesy. Potential mall tenants will not sign up unless they can see progress on the future mall, and they can’t giddily visualize the flat-topped big-box stores and acres of hot black petroleum sludge asphalt parking lots with all those damn trees in the way. So, they denude a site as quickly as possible – stripping it absolutely bare - to attract tenants and to get it done as quickly as possible before the locals realize the magnitude of what they’ve done and raise a cry of protest.
I’m sure there are places - and I’m sure there will be many more – where the rape went ahead and no tenants signed on or they backed out, and a community was left with a vast, empty wasteland. I continue to believe this will happen here. The developers recently proudly announced the commitment by a major national big box retailer, but this same company already has a new store just a few miles to the south and will soon be opening another a few miles to the east. Not only is the local market already saturated, but the economy and the future of gasoline prices can’t bode well for retailing.
And for what? Do we really need more places to buy cheap, disposable plastic crap from
The loss of this forest is not the only thing that saddens me. Sure, as a homeowner, I’d like a break from taxes. Our governments take more and more of our wealth and squander it in so many wasteful and destructive ways. What depresses me is the unimaginative, formulaic ways that we develop places. When it’s built, this mall will look just like every other lifestyle mall that has popped up across
Imagine what could be done if the same amount of money and energy went into revitalizing an existing downtown area with modern mixed-use development with restaurants, affordable housing, small shops for local merchants and craftspeople, offices for professionals, markets for local produce, banks, post offices and local schools. Nearby could be small factories where people actually make things and have real jobs. Much of it could be powered by renewable energy. After all,
But no, we get more of the same. Cheap, soulless buildings surrounded by impermeable parking lots, gluttonous energy consumption and car-only access. I guess what it comes down to is that we don’t produce anything anymore, we only consume. I looked out over the vast emptiness and wondered if this was the only future we can hope for. Are we destined to live our lives according to the vision of guys that see the world over the blade of a bulldozer?
I was ready for breakfast and some scenery that hadn’t been sculpted with a Caterpillar D-9, so I walked my bike down an unfamiliar dirt trace that disappeared into the woods across the street from the devastation. This soon opened onto a power line right-of-way that I followed to a familiar back road that I knew would lead me toward Moose Hill. I followed it to
I walked up the path to Allens Ledge. This is a nice rock outcrop surrounded by oak-pine forest. A little further up the trail is the bigger and more popular Bluff Head, but I didn’t want to gaze out at Gillette Stadium and the surrounding new
From Allens Ledge in August, I can gaze out at the oaks, pines and sky and see no roads, no malls, not even houses. With all the hard rock around me with little bits of moss and grass growing from the cracks I could almost imagine I was back on Camel’s Hump in Vermont or even the Sierra of California. A few small bonsai-like pines cling to the rocks and blue stem grasses grow in small patches of thin soil. There are a few red-cedar trees that are typical of these rocky ledges and a small patch of scrub oak. The rocks themselves are scored with striations in many directions and I can’t help but think some of them must have been left by the continental ice sheets that once covered these hills. The old stone chimney reminded me that people have been enjoying this spot for a very long time.
I sat on the stone, enjoying my sandwich, cantaloupe and coffee. I gazed at the infinite blue sky with a white half moon overhead. There was barely a puff of breeze in the warm, dry air. I was so alone I felt it would be okay to pull off my tee shirt to feel the sun on my skin. No birds sang and the few that flew over seemed to have distant locales on their minds. Big dragonflies patrolled lazily in the soft air above the rock.
The September-like air reminded me that yet another summer season will be drawing to a close and the remainder of my life will be one season shorter. I hoped for a better world in the years ahead but I felt as if we faced years of desolation and darkness before we find the peaceful valleys of our dreams.
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