Wednesday, July 12, 2006

disturbed, then sad, then angry

This morning I was driving to work, same as always. I pulled out of my street onto a more main, yet still heavily wooded road. As I drove down Union Street, I nearly died of shocked as I looked to my left and saw that about 4 acres of land had been clear cut and a group of men were standing next to their big machines having a chat. We had heard that the land was being looked at for houses, but were hoping that the land wouldn't perk due to the heavy rain we've had, or the builders would lose interest. Then today without warning, the trees are gone. There will probably be houses there by the end of the summer.

I was shocked to see this, so horrified that I nearly drove off the road into someone's split rail fence. I quickly straightened the wheel, but it still felt like a punch in the stomach. A few seconds passed and I got over the shock and horror, and then it was replaced by incredible sadness, a sadness that, yet again, a piece of my town has been clear cut for development. It makes me ill to see piece by piece the town turning from woods and field to hideous 1 acre plots upon which million dollar houses are built. I got a panicky feeling when I thought about the trees being cut down. What if there were bird's nests in there? Then I thought of the wildlife. This tract of land has been unoccupied for who knows how long. A house across the street was built in 1820 or so, so we can safely assume that there hasn't been anyone on that land since then, and even if it was at one point farm land, it's been resting for a very long time, long enough to grow thick stands of pines. So for the past 150 to 200 years or so, no one has touched that land and it's been wild, hosting who knows how many types of birds and animals and plants and insects. Had they been crushed, obliterated or had they survived to escape? I can only wonder.

Finally, sitting here now, all I feel is an intense rage for people who could show such disregard for the world around them. I feel disappointed and sad for the people who look at a tract of forest and see it plowed down and replaced by houses. I am disgusted by people who consume, consume, consume, knocking down forests and displacing wildlife so they can live in a 4,000 square foot house and park their escalade in the driveway. People may listen to me or read this and think 'there goes that raging tree-hugging liberal again' but it's not just the wildlife I'm worried about. I do understand people need a space on this planet too, but the implications of building on that piece of land may be greater than anyone anticipates. Cutting down trees is the first issue. As soon as that is done, you lose a major absorber of ground water, which would be an issue on this piece of land because it is damp and has a tendency to flood. You reduce the amount of oxygen around you (which might not be noticed) and your house is going to bake in the summer sun, thus driving up the cost of air conditioning the house (because of course, these people will have central air and will probably never open the windows). Traffic will increase on road as well. Also, because a major wildlife corridor has been fragmented, human wildlife interaction is inevitable. Deer will probably eat bushes and trees, and the residents will see coyotes in their yard, and probably flip out about it too. But you know what? You get what you deserve. For doing this, for RAPING the land, I hope their basements flood everytime it rains. I hope the sun heats their house so unbearably in the summer that no amount of AC will ever make them comfortable. I hope deer eat their bushes, and coyotes eat their cats (or their children. Ok, I don't wish coyotes eat their cats, cause hey, the cats didn't do they shouldn't be for the kids, I hope they don't get eaten, but I hope they are so terrified that they don't play outside. ha. there!). I hope they disturb nests of insects and mice and their houses are infested. Thinking of these things makes me smile, but in the end, they do no good, because even if this happnes, what's done is done. The forest is clear cut and gone, and even if by some strange miracle the builders choose not to build, I won't ever see that forest again, not in my lifetime.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Oh Al, I am so sorry. So. sorry. And so angry. I don't understand how people can just do this so easily, how they can look at the same beautiful forest that I see, the forest that calms and soothes me every time I visit your lovely little town, and see money, homes, commerce, people, and miss, utterly, completely miss the thing of beauty, life, and wildness that is the forest itself. The battle between people needing space and animals needing space should not be fought between the "tree huggers" and the development crews. It should be fought by everyone, for everyone, people and animals too. We should all want there to be open space and forest and community and wildness left in this ever-tamed, strangled, mutilated world. Why don't we? Why can't we agree on how important it is to steward this planet well? Because if we did, if we actually PLANNED developments and TALKED to biologists and THOUGHT about where and when to build, and where and when NOT to build, I truly believe we could live in harmony, all of us, nature and mankind. I do. Because you're right, people need space too. No one is saying they don't. But so often, so terrifyingly, frustratingly often, it's like no one even stops to think. Or care.

I hope their basement floods too. And I hope they store Grandma's trillion dollar Persian rug down there to get moldy, moth-eaten, mouse-pooped, termite-chewed, dung-infested, stained, faded, frayed, and munched. And when they discover it, I hope they curse, then look around in fear at the power of the forest to TAKE SOMETHING BACK.