Environmental Fantasies


I am 3/4 of the way through a delightful narrative of author Bill Bryson's journey along the Appalachian Trail. Parts of the book make me laugh out loud and it's a rich portrait of humanity and a "hands-on" (been there, done that, got blisters from it) perspective. One of Bryson's images rang true with something my mother shared with me the other day. She said a fitting retaliation against CEO's of companies who had harmed the environment would be to make them cut thousands of acres of grass in their high powered suits, but armed only with nail scissors to do it. An image I can't possibly share with you without hours of painful, Carpal-tunnel inducing Photoshop work.

A part of Bryson's book also seems to be on the same wavelength. He writes about how a stretch of road between Norwich and Hanover New Hampshire went from a two-lane country bridge, to a super highway. His narrative is so...East Coast. And his ending fantasy image in the second paragraph strikes me as similar to my Mom's vision. He writes:

So they built a broad, straight highway, six lanes wide in places, with concrete dividers down the middle and outsized sodium street lamps that light the night sky for miles around. Unfortunately, this had the effect of making the bridge into a bottleneck where the road narrowed back to two lanes. Sometimes two cars would arrive simultaneously at the bridge and one of them would have to give way (well, imagine!), so, as I write, they are replacing that uselessly attractive old bridge with something much grander and in keeping with the Age of Concrete.

All of this is some significance to me, partly because I live in Hanover, but mostly, I believe, because I live in the late twentieth century. [the book was published in 1998-forgive me! I didn't really get into Led Zeppelin, Traffic, Jethro Tull or Alice Cooper until college either!] Luckily, I have a good imagination, so as I strode from Norwich to Hanover, I imagined not a lively mini-expressway but a country lane shaded with trees, bounded with hedges and wild flowers, and graced with a stately line of modestly scaled lampposts, from each of which was suspended, upside down, a highway official, and I felt much better.
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