Reckling: Neighborly feedback
Dear rural neighbor,
I don’t like what you’re doing to the place you recently purchased. I mean, didn’t you spend all that money in order to get away from that crazed urban life you live? Why the numerous camera towers and such overkill on your development plan? Don’t you see that you are creating the very thing you are seeking to escape? That peaceful rural character, that makes this area such a special treasure, is being destroyed by your godawful, Disneyland plans.
Just over a century ago, this entire valley was wilderness, with seasonal visits from Ute hunting parties. Utes were the only visitors for thousands of years, and any trace of their eons spent here is subtle and organic. More recently, it has been ranch country with widely scattered houses, mostly out of sight of one another. Raising livestock and crops kept the land free of development. Which brings me to your “project.”
You’ve chosen to place your modern masterpiece in the middle of an elk and deer winter corridor; this is where they come to rest and attempt to survive the final brutal weeks of the high-mountain winter and spring. Even though you only plan to spend two weeks of the winter/spring season here, try to remember that six months is a very long time for wild animals to endure wintry conditions.
The ceaseless barrage of concrete trucks, dump trucks and heavy machinery has invaded this valley on a daily basis to transform your once-pristine pasture into a concrete-lined artificiality: your dream home. The elk and deer will bed down there no longer.
The beeping reverse signals from the yellow army of earthmovers drown out the cries of the hawk, silences the whisper of the wind and buries the beautiful songs of nature. Your award-winning architectural design and its requirement of land manipulation, an ill-conceived metropolitan nightmare, have been successful only in destroying the peacefulness of natural life here. Our dogs and horses are startled constantly by jakebrake releases and the loud shudders of diesel downshifting.
As the snow begins its springtime melt, the massive amounts of toxic road base you’ve brought in will now begin to seep into the surrounding land and ancient water table below. In addition, any vegetation the road material has touched is tainted and will die. The lovely country lanes that connect this community are dirt and gravel, not two-lane highways. Those shiny German automobiles you speed by in may not hold up too well out here, but they sure are successful in stirring up tornadoes of dust. The speeds at which you travel make it impossible to avoid mowing down wildlife and livestock; road kill is yet another modern-day tragedy.
That fancy wall you’ve designed (you know — it looks like it belongs at the Dallas Country Club) will crumble in the howling winter winds faster than you can say, “Why did I pay so much to build this?” Yes, when all is said and done, you will throw that first “show it off” party, and your big-city friends will feign those “oohs” and “ahs” as the rent-a-staff serves them caviar-topped hors d’oeuvres. But what will the fox, the coyote and your accountant think?
Water is a precious resource. I cringe when I think how much water you’ll be pumping from your newly drilled wells in order to hydrate that acre of rolled out sod, saturate the non-native trees, fill the swimming pool and supply all those Jacuzzi tubs. Rest assured, the field mice, prairie dogs and moles will enjoy your new manicured lawn more than anyone else.
As I type this, the bald eagles, an endangered species, are nesting in the dead cottonwoods that your landscape architect will want to chop down at the edge of your parceled subdivision. To accommodate your tennis courts, your planners already have removed an entire glade of aspen trees.
And what’s with all the lights? At night we are no longer able to see the star-spangled heavens. Your place looks like a Walmart parking lot — open 24/7. The house lights, yard lights, garage lights, tennis-court lights and driveway lights are blinding. If you fear the dark, you should stay in the city and not pollute the night with unnecessary lights. And why they are left on, even when you are never here, is a mystery.
It’s hard to forget you, day or night. The year-round construction we neighbors have suffered these past three years has put a dent in our psyche. Absentee ownership and the fact that you’ll never truly live there makes your grandiose compound a tad unappealing to the rest of us.
I’ve never met you, and there’s a real chance I never will. You could be a right, nice person, but these are some things I don’t like about you. I’ll never mail this letter, but I will work to forgive you, for you know not what you do.
Margaret Reckling lives in Woody Creek and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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