On the coast of Maine, investors found undeveloped sections of rock upon which gulls sometimes still roost and waves crash. A little dynamite reduced the moguls to rubble and bulldozers pushed them to the ocean’s edge, leaving a flat place on which to build a cottage in which city folks will pay exorbitant amounts to live for a week. I know; I’ve been among those city folks.
Miles away, other investors have found really nice lakes populated only by Common Loons and bullfrogs. They have divided the shorefront into tiny lots so people from crowded burgs can move to crowded lakesides.
Near my home in Adams County, Pa., residential development sprouts in the middle of former corn fields, a shopping center blooms nearby, and suddenly we cannot see the mountains just beyond – the peaks we spied on previous drives – and we wonder where the grandeur went. It was, indeed, a beautiful place to live and build, but by the time everyone who wanted some got some, they were living in the same wall-to-wall, where the best view is out the bedroom window and into the living room next door.
When I lived in Jacksonville, Fla., the powers that profiteth decided taxpayers should build a six-lane bridge across the St. Johns River. The bridge connected suburban Orange Park, the main fame-claim of which was a virtually defunct dog racing track, with Ponte Vedra, a section of sand dunes on the Atlantic Ocean where my then soon-to-be-spouse and I went on late evenings to, er, swim in the ocean.
We wed, and the bridge opened, and within five years the entire section of beach was wall-to-wall “No Trespassing” signs, with Route A1A cutting through the middle of the “owners” new estates.
If we love it, we can destroy it, and too often do.
None of us really own the land. A lot of money changes hands as we sell each other a piece of the planet, then annually purchase from the town , county, or state the right to walk on it until the next payment is due. And one day, we all have a turn at departing this plane for another, taking nothing with us that we didn’t have when we arrived, and from what I’ve been told there are no eminent domain proceedings involved in the loss.
Immigrants, I read someplace, are merely people fleeing their too-cramped homes in search of new restaurants. We are, to my knowledge, the only species on the planet that can deliberately increase our population beyond its ability to provide itself food and water. Other species simply stop bearing so many young, or become too many and step in front of our Kias and Macks to thin their herd. If there are too many rabbits, foxes and wolves move in, and when the rabbit population dwindles, the foxes and wolves disappear.
Adams County has some beautiful streams, begging for kayaking (though there are shallow places where the boat must be carried to the next deep-enough water) and swimming. It also has nearly too little water to supply the people developers would like to sell a piece of the county.
There are developers standing in line who would like to pipe three million gallons a day from the Susquehanna River some 40 miles to those waterless homes they would like to build to sell to folks from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore who want to come live in developments named for the orchards and deer that were removed to make room for them.
I do love this place we seem bent on destroying – if we’re not mindful ahead of time.