Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Leave only footprints

This time of year when the leaves are all gone, you can see for miles. When driving just a few miles from here, the bare trees afford a view of scenic faraway places. One can see mountain ranges in deepening shades of blue and purple. Waterfalls rushing to get to the valley. A mountaintop lodge with rockers lined up facing the setting sun. The shape of Atlanta's skyline. Small towns spread out in the valleys. Blue lakes reflecting the sky. A gold steeple shining in the evening sun. Houses of all shapes, sizes, and colors dotting the hillsides. Perfect rows of apple trees.

A little closer one can see a rock chimney with mud chinking, standing alone, sparking the imagination as to what it was once attached. Low rock walls in the woods which were probably the site of a garden or orchard, the rocks being piled up at the edge when found in the soil. Remnants of a moonshine "still" in the valley with the ax marks still visible from the revenuers.

Property lines marked by brightly colored tape and paint. Property corners marked by wooden stakes, iron pins, and rock piles.

The leaves that have disappeared were also a screen for scenes not so pleasing. Logging roads cutting a maze through the hillsides. Land cleared of pines for pulpwood, hardwoods for timber. Evidence of dynamite for moving stubborn rock to clear for roads or foundations. Old cars rusting in a bed of leaves. Silt clogging up the mountain stream washed down from the development up the mountain. Discarded appliances and furniture on an abandoned road.

Local history documents the dwelling of the Cherokee civilization here in these valleys and hills, though little evidence is seen of it, the occasional trail tree or arrowhead. Sadly, I doubt the future inhabitants will be able to say the same about us.

Is this land really ours to do with what we please? Or in the grand scheme of things, aren't we just here for a little while, and shouldn't we be stewards for the land, looking out for it and protecting it?

Take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill only time


Motherkitty said...

Susan, you just gave me goosebumps. Thank you for a beautiful, poignant post. You are so right -- we are but a speck of space dust in the vast ocean of the universe and we should heed the warnings -- DO NOT DISTURB.

Finn said...

Absolutely beautiful piece of writing Susan. Very thought provoking and hauntingly beautiful. *VBS*

jellyhead said...

Thanks Susan for your eloquent and important message. The quote is very apt, too.

susan said...

motherkitty - I like that 'Do Not Disturb' - it would have been a good title for this post!

doubleknot said...

Thank you for your wonderful post. When I lived in the country half of our land was set aside to keep 'as is'. Our new neighbor was forever wanting to 'clear' it for us and when he cleared his back part it made me cry - he had a bulldozer just go in and push everything up in a pile. I doubt if the land has yet recovered and that was many years ago.
There is so much developement now where I live so much is gone forever - orange trees, farms, just wild places. Cherish what you have it may not be too long with us.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

As a person who loves nature and spends quite a lot of time in it I really loved your post.