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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Progress towards regress

I'd like to report a step backwards in our neighborhood. The little lane called Bay View has lost its asphalt. It's been cracking and eroding for a while now, and the other week cryptic marks were spray-painted on its surface and then some equipment - three specialized machines and one all-purpose guy - started to dig it up. Upon inquiry, the guy said they were not going to replace the asphalt. This, I said to myself, I have to see to believe.

Believe it. Bay View has always been one of my favorite walks, the striking ordinariness of a woods undeveloped - and now it's even better. Our neighbors who use and (presumably own) it have clearly decided that petroleum-based stuff is not cost-effective, where dirt and gravel are. Perhaps they even considered the deer who will now cross in comfort, the slugs who will no longer sacrifice themselves after a rain, the large increase in hunting grounds for birds, and the delight of at least one human in the new, softer, avenue of brown.

It's tempting to draw the analogy much further. The huge new LPG tank planned for Searsport would definitely go. Muscle cars, ditto. Coal burners re-fitted, plastic replaced by paper, diesel by electric, nylon by cotton, toothbrush by willow twig, hemp forever!.  Hell, why stop at petroleum? Retreat from silicon and aluminium and uranium too.

Don't we wish. Much as I'd want the world to fall apart, regress to gravel, how can I do without my car and my computer and the ergonomics of home?  I'm hooked: on power and comfort. The anachronism of Bay View seems such a tiny little thing, but it is a victory nevertheless. And doesn't the woodpile need replenishing?

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