Saturday, September 16, 2006

A case for the Curmudgeon’s view

As the morning clouds lifted from the mountains above SpringTowne this morning, one could see evidence of the overnight seasonal changes. Amidst the wisps of cloud and mist was a layer of snow, the first snow of the autumn that will be inaugurated later this week.
Change is constant in this world so completely dominated by business interests and power play. As the world economy grinds as mill grist the faces of those busy trying to survive, we in the mountain valleys off the main arteries of the west are caught in the latest in capitalism's constant search for expansion.
Many new people have come to Sanpete over the past five or six years looking for a place to rest from the harried mess that has been made of our society. Many come here, having heard of cheap real estate or outbuildings unused by the natives that can be bought and spruced up for peanuts to endow instant cachet and hip rusticity to the person with a little disposable income or will to go a little bit more into debt to the banker.
Most of this species does not stay here year-round; in fact most do not even stay around here week-long for any period. They herald the benefits of the small-town atmosphere, the clean air, and the opportunity to "get away from it all." Then they market their wares, art or intellect somewhere off to the north or wherever else they have opportunity or another residence, spreading the news of the affordable Mecca in the mountains of far-off Mormon Utah.
The truth is that they can't stand being here all the time. Sanpete’s not an easy place to live, with brief but hot, dry summers and irrigation restrictions for those without huge inheritances of water or the money to buy from those who hawk shares. There are also long, cold winters with very little to break up what after the long months becomes to the mind windswept sage and expanses of trees and fields bereft of life.
The long winters are work to those without money to fix up the old houses. Winter is a time of psychological and emotional endurance for those without money or another residence with which to break up the intense anticipation of spring and new tasks set by the progression of seasons.
Nevertheless, this change has come to Sanpete with droves of new automobiles and shiny, fashionable faces gazing excitedly from their cars upon the allure of restored antique houses and the promise of those unrestored. Those for sale by Sanpeters who have given up on own hopes of a simpler life away from these devourers of milk and honey. But these devourers have been invited by what we have and sometimes don’t appreciate.
This will bring ruin upon all of our houses, eventually.
Life isn't easy down here in the high desert valleys. There are those who have made a conscious choice to commit to community, the land and necessarily simpler ways. But that is changing with the newer immigrants to Sanpete. The new way is the way of money and convenience, and this is slowly seeping its way into our valley.
The only way out of such change is a sort of ruin, the ruin that comes of unsustainable expansion into fragile resources, principle and the lifeblood of simple people's lives.
I don't pretend to know or even understand the plight of the truly exploited or displaced, but I see the methods of the same machinery of privilege steamrolling the meek at work here in SpringTowne.
Not only does it make it hard for the principled idealist to live, it makes it downright frightening to walk our neighborhood sometimes.
When will people learn? Marketing a lifestyle begets just what it sows:
The whirlwind and an extinction of the lifestyle it sold downstream. That sort of change is never good.

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