Yesterday morning as I walked home from a visit with my mom, I heard pounding from across the road. The reason this got my attention is the only things across the road are empty fields and my grandfather’s long-vacant farmhouse.
The pounding was followed by a crash, which helped me locate the source of the sound. Someone was on the roof, tearing off the sheeting, and tossing it to the ground below.
I grew up in that house. I’ve written about it here before. My grandparents have been dead for over 30 years and the house has gone through several owners since it passed out of the family’s hands. The current owner let it fall into such a state of disrepair that it’s now hopeless. The roof was already half gone, thanks to windstorms. The foundation is collapsing. Most of the windows are broken, their shutters hanging askew. The back door stands open. The front porch has crumbled to a heap.
I used to dread the day that the place finally met its end. Now, since I have to look at it out my kitchen door all winter long, I almost welcome it.
Notice, I mention I only have to look at it in the winter. Right now, it’s pretty well covered with vines. Nature is attempting to reclaim it. Plus my own trees are in leaf, blocking my view. But once the leaves fall, there it’ll be, in all its ramshackle glory.
Or maybe not.
There’s been a lot of odd activity over there lately. Surveyors have been crawling over the property. The absentee landowner has been out with his mower, clearing the shoulder-high weeds. And now, this guy on the roof.
By the way, he quit working after only a couple of hours, leaving the roof bare, gaping open to the heavens. As if the house weren’t humiliated enough by its sad state.
So what’s going on over there anyway? Is the owner going to sell the property? Or is he preparing it for the onslaught of gas drilling?
That’s my bet. I fear that instead of living in the middle of farm country, I’m going to be transported into the middle of an industrial park—without having to move at all. It’s happening all around us. Rolling, wooded countryside is giving way to massive pipelines and gas processing plants and high-tension power lines.
So I’m not just anticipating mourning the destruction of the house I grew up in. I’m mourning the destruction of a way of life.
Progress? Yeah, I guess.
I’m not planning to stand in its way. Heck, we’ve already leased our ten acres and could sure use some royalties. But I weep for the lost farmland and woodlands.
I think somewhere in Heaven, my grandfather’s weeping, too.