Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wasteland -or- Why Cumberland County Isn't Tuscany

Coming into consciousness this morning feeling seasick -- that hellish symphony is being played again.  It's the chainsaws first, followed by the whirr-chunk-slurp of the brutally efficient Vermeer wood chopper attached, I know, to a dump truck.  It's just on the other side of the houses to the east, but I can visualize the destruction all too clearly.  The big maples are not just being trimmed to half-dead hulks; they're being cut like sausages and removed.

Our HOA Landscape Committee does not even lie low for a while anymore.  One expensive, landraping project follows another in quick succession.  Thousands and thousands of dollars were spent over several years removing all the bark mulch and replacing it with shredded tire bits painted red.  Even the landscaping contractor told them it was a bad, bad idea.  Then at additional expense it was all removed, without a word being said in the occasional newsletter.  You would think that fiasco would have sobered the Committee up, but no.  They tore through the recently completely replanted traffic islands, leaving a desert dotted with the sad remains: more expense in pursuit of ugliness.  All the pink spirea shrubs in the community were cut down to the ground -- we'll see how many are frozen to the roots this winter and die.  In the past two years, 21 trees have been removed.  As I watched the deaths today, a neighbor I barely recognized drove by and stopped.  She said that she'd heard the Committee is going to remove all the large trees, not just these two.  Without telling us, as usual.  I felt sick.

In 1559, Cosimo the First, Medici family ruler of Tuscany, promulgated a law forbidding the cutting of trees in the Appenine mountains, enforced with severe penalties.  He saw the population growing quickly, with deforestation and farmland erosion inevitably following (he probably knew what had happened in ancient Greece).   A concept foreign to us, and sure to raise screams of protest from the ruling right wing around here -- that resources must be managed wisely for use while being preserved for the future.  Meanwhile, a proposed WalMart and a Sam's Club nearby will surely get approved.  While the Club will be built where an abandoned big box store now sits (trading nothin' for nothin'), the WalMart will sit on a low, marshy area crossed by unnamed creeks and the only treed area anywhere nearby that actually seems to have some life (but do the birds, deer and turtles make money for anybody?) -- a loss/loss situation.

What I call Redneck Landscaping spreads like an alien fungus in all directions in the eastern part of the county:  litter in amounts I can't even keep up with anymore (I put the fast food and convenience store crap right back in their trash cans), and endless slashing of trees and any pleasant flowering shrub (other than choking vines and weeds, of course) everywhere.  What's left of the Bradford pears along both sides of the boulevard were recently cut even worse than in the first picture above; some look like maimed corpses -- trunks with a few stubs.  Toward the Poplar Avenue intersection, the apartment development owners removed all the original trees along the sidewalk, so in the summer it's the Western Desert of Egypt without the sand (yet).  The old shopping center about a 15-minute drive away where our gym is (low rent = low fees) recently trashed all their trees to the extent it looks like those parts of western Tennessee we saw flattened by tornadoes a few years ago.  As I look around, I see hundreds of maintenance items they've neglected for a decade, and that's what they spend their time and money on?

On the monument to Duke Cosimo I in Florence there's a bronze plaque depicting bees gathered in symmetry.  His philosophy regarding man and nature is thus symbolized: we must work together constructively, always with an eye toward the next generations.  All around me, I see the exact opposite.


1 comment:

  1. there must be a nature society around there. Join and convert the mentality.