Sunday, October 28, 2012

Carousel

I should have known as soon as I saw the cement truck idling on Lucia Beach Road, just where it turns from two lanes to one lane, more or less. But there was no sign of anything different in the neighborhood, and I kept walking. When another cement truck came roaring toward me, sounding like a fighter plane invading a peaceful country, taking the whole road and forcing me nearly into the woods, and the first truck came roaring behind me a couple of minutes later, then even this innocent got that something was happening at the beautiful little pocket beach at the end of the road.

It's a visceral reaction, an unexplainable and naive and sophomoric despair. I can only think of the trees that were cut down to make room, to make timbers; the lime dirtily dug to make concrete, the iron to make steel, the coal to make electricity; the sand melted to make glass; the petroleum refined to make plastic and tiles and the gas to bring all the machines in to dig and cut. This house-building is a brutal thing, and indeed brutal is the way we build most everything. A new house in such a gorgeous place seems only a crude apprehension of our grasp on life.

I don't think of the people who will live there and enjoy the surf, the birds, the always-changing marriage of sky and ocean, like I do. I can only see the scarred earth, the naked struts, piles of waste. Mine is a victory of imagination, a failure of empathy. I'd rather the carousel of development stop and let me off, even though I'm on it and enjoying the ride.

At least the new house is contained on a small lot close to trees, at least it's being built near the few other houses ringing the beach. At least no one cut down six acres of trees for the benefaction of a single dwelling. That happened a couple of years ago farther up Lucia Beach Road, and on my way back home to my own collection of insults to the earth, I walk past those acres, still scabrous and scrubby, and look for signs of the trees taking over again.

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