I fought them then, as best I could. But what can an angry, broken-hearted fourteen year old girl do to stop "Progress"? About as much as an angry, broken-hearted fifty-three year old woman, I guess. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Back in 1968, I tried going through the system, but then as now, you can't stop Goliath if you don't have at least 38 million dollars of stones for your sling. At fourteen, I didn't have enough stones to build a small beautiful waterfall. Fearlessly, I stood in front of bulldozers daring them to run me over. You probably know how effective THAT was... Like now, there was no way to stop the destruction. At fourteen, I learned a lot about people and power. I learned that I didn't care much for people in general, and I certainly had no power at all. That hasn't changed much either.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Deja Vous All Over Again
How well I remember that cold, cloudy day six and a half months ago - April 18, 2007. I was out by the pond, looking at the stream outlet, which flowed heavily with the spring thaw. I was in the process of choosing a few more rocks for the beautiful little waterfall when I saw Poncho approaching from the house, his face grim. He shared bad news that NEXUS was coming our way. The academy would be built down our street. I listened to his horrifying report. "Its all over", was my reaction. Its all over.
This is not the first time I've gone through this. I grew up on 5 acres abutting the building site of Armstrong High School in Plymouth, Minnesota. They built the school and parking lot along the back fence, reaching beyond the length of our property. We lost our view of the woods, with Medicine Lake in the distance. Not one of the magnificent old oak trees was left standing. The new school left a huge footprint on the landscape, and an even bigger one on me.
Back then, I watched helplessly as backhoes and bulldozers clear-cut the woods I'd loved; where I'd spent so much of my childhood riding ponies and horses, playing with my friends, studying nature and learning about wildlife. Soon I will watch the similar demise of the Grosslein/Bye woods as they clear-cut and destroy that beautiful chunk of heaven. I watched-will watch the land be flattened into a desert of brown mud. I heard-will hear the noise. I smelled-will smell the dust and fumes and smoke of the burning trees. I cried-will cry the tears. Tears of my youth spilling down my much older face. "Its all over." My heart broke-will break once again.
New roads will be built or widened and paved to accommodate the huge increase in traffic. Stop lights, turn lanes and speed limits will be added. Changes will all happen faster than you can imagine. Someone will manage to buy and annex land west of town to build a gas station and convenience store to cater to MLA employees who commute from Little Falls and Pierz. (You know, all those MLA employees who spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on gas and groceries in Onamia...) To escape, as D'Angelo described as "the traffic, the noise, and the boys", long time locals will probably try to sell their land. In this case, however, who will buy it? Some people may like living close to their kid's school, but nobody wants to live next to sex offenders (except in Onamia, of course). So forget about this remaining residential in the future with the academy here. But perhaps it will work out for Mike and Larry and Bill to build double-wides and trailer houses and more low-income housing after all, along with their industrial park and possibly a commercial district as well.
With my own eyes, I have seen such rapid changes. In Plymouth, however, they built pretty expensive homes and condos instead of what Onamia will build. Onamia is a Title IV place with Title IV dreams. We're not exactly "high acheivers" here. I strongly recommend that everyone in Onamia, especially those who support building the academy west of the Rum, take a "field-trip" to Armstrong High School to see for yourselves. (Of course there are no actual fields left there anymore.) Take 169 all the way to 36th Avenue North. Turn right. Go 1/2 mile. You'll see it on your left. Come home and take a look at the Grossein/Bye property. Imagine it. If you'd rather have Plymouth, either move there or wait four years. You won't recognize this place. A few of us moved here to escape the cities, the suburbs, the traffic, the noise, the too-many people. We love nature and cherish our privacy. We are being denied the choice to sustain our neighborhood the way we prefer. Our rights are clearly being violated by those who do not share our vision. However, it is not THEIR right to ruin things for us. As bad as it was in Plymouth, at least they didn't cheat.
Up until now, the destruction of my childhood neighborhood was one of the major life-altering experiences of my life. And adding insult to that injury, I had to cut through my own pasture to attend the hateful school; that building which shattered my youthful idealism and shaped who I am today. Proponents of that "Progress" which forever ruined THAT rural residential neighborhood, embedded an angry rebelliousness within my heart which has never since seen enough human kindness to counteract the effects; an act so devastating to young Hannabelle, its damage cut a wound in my heart which is probably too deep to ever heal. The wound is wide open now. And of course, I gush freely...
Back then, there were no personal computers and not even Al Gore had thought about the Internet. No one to talk my troubles to. No NEXUS lawyers getting paid to read my blog. So what did young Hannabelle do then? Retreat from society as much as possible. I struggled. It has been a struggle ever since. At age 17 I took off to look for America. I hitchhiked across the country. Between the age of 17 and 24, I made four such trips across the States and Canada. In June of 1973 I caught a ride - just outside of Denver - with the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Its a true story best left for another day. I often think of him these days - when I'm being challenged by the Intimidators who harass and threaten me. It gives me strength to say "Ted's dead, but even after all I've been through, I'm still here."
When I was twenty-four, I moved to my current home to begin the Onamia chapter of my life. Of course, that's a thirty year long story. I came here alone and made a life for myself. Onamia became my home. I thought that what happened to me in Plymouth could never happen to me in Onamia. I thought I would be safe here. They say that "Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice."
But its Deja Vous All Over Again!
I feel so young...
I feel fourteen once more.