I had written a column about the burden of unintended consequences, and what is happening to our county as a result of the recent persistent cry for more of this and more of that. But, I decided, why should I hold myself up to public ridicule and to being labeled an obstructionist, for the simple reason that I love Rappahannock County just the way it is? Let someone else take up the mantle while the rest of us sit around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya” and tell our grandchildren what it used to be like here beneath the Blue Ridge.
Well, I am sorry, but when the primal forces of fight or flight are my options, I seldom flee.
You would normally expect that when rational people decide to move to or remain in a rural area, they would do it with the knowledge that there would be some things they would have to accept as part of a rural lifestyle, and some things that might be different from living in the city. Unfortunately, recent generations have been raised with the progressive mantra that they can have it all, and just have fun and enjoy it. That may be true in the short term, but in the long term, believing that, and living as though that were true, will destroy all that many of us hold sacred.
In case you haven’t noticed, the construction crews are going like gangbusters, adding 110 miles worth of new traffic lanes to Interstate 66. We have seen what has happened to Culpeper County. I suggest you take a ride up I-66 from Haymarket and drive down behind the McDonald’s in Marshall and see the row upon row of townhouses going up. It’s only about a half mile further up I-66 where you turn onto Crest Hill Road, and that brings you out in the middle of Flint Hill.
I have grown weary of people throwing the red herring on the table that Rappahannock County must grow or we wither and die. This seems to be the favorite argument of those who want Rappahannock to be just like Loudoun or Fauquier or Fairfax. It is most certainly not true. But they seem to think if they repeat this tale enough, people will start to believe it. What I believe is that there are still quite a few of us who think Rappahannock County has been doing just fine, thank you.
In the long run, the pressure on Rappahannock to fold to the developers will only increase. Our county has done a reasonably good job up to this point of holding the line. But as the pressure from the agents of change within our midst continues to increase and we adopt more of the trappings of the world and its marvels, we will have opened the door yet wider for the flood of more people, more traffic, more congestion and all the aggravation and consequences that come with them. There will not be enough old timers left with enough fingers to plug the holes in the dikes.
Last week, Kathleen Parker, who writes for the Washington Post, had a column that quoted William Wordsworth. The following is one of the quotes she used, a part of a sonnet written by Wordsworth in about 1802:
The world is too much with us; late and soon.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
As a lover of nature and the earth, I have before in this column quoted the great Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Indian tribe of the Pacific Northwest. After the white man had killed most of his people and put the rest on reservations, the Chief said something prophetic. He said, “The whites, too, shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.”
The dark hollows, verdant hills and limestone creeks of Rappahannock are my bed and the bed of my ancestors. When there is a broadband repeater in the top of every tree, when the horde of tourists some are hoping will fill their coffers have trampled every wildflower in our forests, and when the little native trout are gone from the virgin streams that tumble down from Mount Marshall, maybe then they will know what Chief Seattle was talking about. Maybe then they will understand why some of us are willing to withstand the ridicule. Maybe then they will understand that, where I come from, some things are worth fighting for.