Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Crying Indian of Fields Road
I live on a beautiful country road, surrounded on either side by farms. At one end, Farmer Bob, with eyeglass lenses thick as hockey pucks, sparse teeth, and pants belted around his armpits, rotates his soybean crop with corn. This year its seventy-five acres of edamame, curling and leafy, low to the ground. Last year it was corn, into whose arching rows my children walked with fingers outstretched, finding feathers, and the antler of a buck.
Where our street T's off into another, belted cows, black with a white stripe in the middle like bovine ice cream sandwiches, low at the crossing. This road, Geauga Lake (Gee-aw-guh), curls its elbow around another beautiful farm, just past the river, that grows cutting flowers and veg, and is tended through an outreach program by kids in trouble and grown-ups who want to help them by pressing their open hands into the dark earth and showing them that they can make magic by pinching back flowers and planting seeds. Neither of these roads has painted stripes or shoulders, its just gritty black top without speed limit signs, that slopes down on either side, forming a ditch into which rainwater channels its way to the river and beyond. Much of the land by the river has been donated by private citizens, like toothless Bob, to the Aurora Branch of the Cuyahoga River Conservancy, preserving it for all eternity for wildlife and humanity.
If you follow Geauga Lake Road, it passes some very hick homes with slanted porches and giant woodpiles, and then a couple of ramshackle horse properties. If you follow it far enough, about three miles, and fail to use your breaks, you will smash your car through the wall of the health and beauty section of Wal-mart and roll to a stop in automotive. This parking lot is shared by McDonalds, Target, Kohls, Marshalls, and The Home Depot.
The point being, this preserve of the natural that we lovingly call home, shares a zip code with every single clam-shell pacakged, shrink-wrapped, palletted piece of shit you'd ever want to throw onto the landfill. All the scuzz pots can be found boiling over just a short drive from the mother goose who nervously tends her nest on the pilings of the bridge that crosses over our little branch of river.
Many people familiar with the area love this street, and travel its curving splendor to get to parts southerly, enjoying the surge of oxygen through their open windows.
Still other people travel this road without loving it at all, to get to the festering retail carbunkle without the hinderance of posted traffic rules or painted lines. Their mania for bar coding is so lustful and blinding that they tear through this solemn route at lunatic speeds, daring children at driveways end and elderly checking mailboxes to step out without looking. "DO IT!" the cars dopler past them, sucking up hems in their wake, tossing their innocent hair. At the hairpin that crests the hill, where there is nothing but trees, no houses, no spies, they roll down their windows, and seeing the beauty of those ancient trees, the mossy ground - they hurl their forty ounce plastic cups, and the cubic foot of crumpled waste that is a Happy Meal, or #1 with Coke, onto the fragrant beds of composting leaf hummus. I've seen a Marshalls bag billowing desperately on the lower branches of this shady passage, and cigarette butts still smoldering in the ditch.
What urge propels these passers-by when seeing such quiet splendor to fuck it up with their grotesque detritus? Is it anger at the cows for their voluptous languor? Or ire at the trees for ascending so effortlessly toward heaven? What makes a person hurl their permanent crap onto the carpet of the divine?
Littering seems so outdated. Something I felt sure, as a culture, we'd outgrown, like Thalidamide, Quaaludes and the typewriter. Don't we recall the PSA of the Native American, nee Indian, with the tear running down his cheek having had trash thrown from a speeding car onto his mocassins? I do. And I feel his pain.
"People start pollution. People can stop it."
Or shoot out the tires of the people who continue to soil my moccasins.