Friday, October 8, 2010

Lucia Beach Road

A favorite walk around here is the pretty road that ends in a pocket beach. There's a bit of suburbia as Lucia Beach Road splits off from Ash Point Drive, a few sprawling ranches with lots of vehicles - cars, pickups, boats, trailers - in their driveways. Then it takes a turn towards the ocean, and you get a first look at the Muscle Ridge Islands flexing in the sparkling sea. There are woods on both sides, hardly a house in view, for some hundreds of yards.

I should say, "there were woods on both sides." To the west they are no more.

Some 5 or 6 years ago we noticed some cutting going on. "Could be for firewood," we thought, seeing that the cutting seemed selective and spared a stand of tall and beautiful birches. Nothing much changed over the next few years, a few more trees cut, some clearing of brush, until the recession hit, and nothing happened at all. Small trees were coming back.

Until this year. Almost everything has been cut down, except for a thin beauty strip along the road, and maybe half a dozen trees oddly placed like random islands in a plot of land that I discovered, upon asking a woman who was trimming branches down the road, was more than six acres in size. "I heard," she said, "that three houses are going in there. I better walk my property line, they might have strayed a bit over it."

A monster chipper was eating branches and brush as we spoke, creating great conical piles of chips and mulch. "Think I'll go talk to them," she continued, "to see what they're going to do with those chips. I could use some."

She didn't seemed too concerned at the loss of hundreds of trees, including those stately birches, nor at the prospect of mansions on two acres, lawns, ornamental trees from nurseries. I remonstrated, gently out loud and loudly inside, that I didn't understand why they had to cut down all the trees. "Wouldn't it be better at least to keep some for shade and beauty?"

Increasingly, I don't seem to fit in the world. I understand less and less of the drive to accumulate, push out, conquer, consume. Only a temporary lack of capital, or advancing age, or possibly governmental regulations can temper our enthusiasm for burning.

Just past the pocket beach at the end of the road is Birch Point State Park, a lovely stretch of rock and sand and tidal pools, backed by woods, known to the locals as Lucia Beach. What I call Lucia Beach is half a dozen houses crowded around a pocket of sand and big rocks. The former, officially re-named apparently, welcomes the public to its shores. At the latter I stand nervously at its edge, trespassing, watching for critical faces in the windows of the big houses all around.

Not only do we consume; we like to do it in maximum privacy. To my chagrin, that's where I still fit in the Zeitgeist, preferably, however, with trees.

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