Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paving Paradise…..for a Soccer Field?

Field Before Hurricane Sandy
The first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy has just come and gone. The wide open field next to our condo suffered. Over twenty 100 year old trees came down. They flanked the field where I walked my dog each morning and in an instant the field was naked, exposed, without them.  I had secretly named them “sentries” because they ringed an open field – as if guarding it from the wild brush and wetlands that lay beyond.

Over the past year, my dog and I got used to the increased eastern morning light that was left in the wake of Sandy. We adapted to the increased noise from the nearby heavily trafficked road.  The debris was cleared and new brush and grassy knolls remained.
In The Wake of Sandy

At least until a week ago.  Then the surveyors and landscapers began walking the field, and taking measurements. I saw some trees and evergreens and felt excited that there would be replanted. Instead,  two days ago, several majestic oaks and maples and pines which had survived Sandy, met their next predator. The Village of Briarcliff Manor which deemed a new soccer field more important than several mighty old trees who’d survived Sandy. They were felled in an afternoon – to make way for a “level field” for soccer.

Gone is the serenity of a natural state, replaced by some village planner’s idea of natural landscape. A “level” field ringed by shrubs and manicured plantings, instead of natural brush and gentle slopes and knolls.  Gone too is my cat Cody who happened to wander out that day and must’ve encountered the earth moving and the upheaval of it all.  I could only think of Eddie Murphy as Dr. Doolittle – trying to save the habitat for all the animals who once called the trees and forest and brush their home. Only this is no movie; this is my neighborhood.

The Latest Carnage
In my youth Joni Mitchell sang of paving  paradise to put up a parking lot. She was ahead of her time. Only now it is more than parking lots that are assaulting our lives. We have plenty of soccer fields, school fields and organized athletics. How much natural land remains for us to traverse and feel at peace and at one with the earth?

I miss my morning sentries –and with this latest assault, I feel the pain of the land that we continue to distort for ends that I don't see as "improvements." To me, it only moves us further from nature, spirit and grace of God.  And I'm not particularly religious.

With this latest upheaval I am determined to move away soon. I don’t want to live in a community where an administrative edict to serve a few, trumps Mother Nature. I miss the land as it was and I miss my cat who could no longer navigate the landscape he’d known for 5 years. 

Some things we can’t help – like Hurricane Sandy. But some things we can.  Moving our kids into ever constant sports, afterschool activities , celebrity acquisitive money grubbing culture – well to me it makes no sense.  When I was a kid – we just played in the yard and it was lots of fun. Not everything had to be organized, cultivated or manicured.

When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

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