Monday, January 27, 2014

The forest reclaims the ruins

A comment I left over at the Archdruid Report:

I was hiking today in the Rhode Island woods and it got me to thinking about our stories of progress. I think one of the reasons that the hegemony of Progress never quite gained full hold on me has to do with walks like this. The Pocono mountains where I spent summers as a child - like the Rhode Island woods - are filled with the remains of old farms and houses, tanneries, quarries and forgotten cemeteries. You may feel like you are walking in the forest primeval, but then you notice a few scraggling branches of lilac and an elderly apple tree. Poke around and you are certain to find the foundations of a cellar overgrown. Obviously, these abandoned places could be folded into the story of Progress, but for me they never were. They didn’t give me an alternate story really, but I think they created a productive dissonance to the stories that I was being told.
Updated with the Archdruid's response:
Andy, fascinating. It occurs to me that frequent childhood trips to the Gray's Harbor area of Washington's Pacific coast, where rotting pilings from long-defunct canneries stick up out of the water like decayed teeth and the ruins of dead factories are nearly as common as they are here in the Rust Belt, may have played a similar role in the shaping of my imagination.