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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mourning the Land


                   The trip from Sedalia Missouri to Springfield Missouri is about one hundred fifty miles. It is a two lane winding in spots road with green fields, hay pastures and cattle ranches along the route. There are small stone one and two room homes built at the turn of the last century, nineteen hundred, there are small convenience stores, churches, schools, all the marks of civilization but on a much smaller scale than back east. Some towns boast a population of one hundred sixty-eight, some a thousand odd. They all have their little bits of character. The town with the house with all the windows, or the town that has that log home that they just put a steel roof on, or the big cattle spread that streatches for miles on both sides of the road, and all you see is rolling pasture dotted with cows big and small.

                    In other areas the pastures are fenced off is small acreages with trees lining gullies and small seasonal creeks, there in the trees you see hawks, sharp shinned , red tail, Goshawk and Cooper's, along with the seasonal bald eagles, overhead in the spring you spot the geese, ducks, pelicans, egrets and herons seeking water. Along the roadway there are the wild rabbits, deer, armadillos and turtles crossing the road. at night you see the raccoons.

                   More and more there is construction along the route, new homes, new businesses. There is a trend along the roadway from town to town, walmart, macdonalds, domino's dollar general, jiffy lube etc, all the chains have branched out and eliminated the small mom and pop businesses that had their own character stamped on the establishment. There is no longer the cute little shop with the curtains on the windows, or the diner with the old tools hanging on the walls. There are no more signs of old America, with the ethnic art and character. Everything now is a carbon copy of one town to the next. You never know where you  are because everything looks the same, stamping corporate America across the road.

                  Further to change the landscape is the recent activity to widen highway 65, the north south route from sedalia to springfield. MODOT, Missouri Department of Transportation is busy removing homes, fields, pastures, trees and hills in an effort to accommodate the ever increasing traffic busily moving people and goods.

                 It is all gone, all the natural beauty and the wildlife habitat. There is no longer anything to see as you travel highway 65 from sedalia to springfield. As the song says, "They've paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

                 A very sad mournful trip, a funeral cortege lasting more than two hours with no body to bury at the end, simply to turn around and revisit the funeral parlor along the way, the miles of cement and macadam with the sign posts that replace the trees, the dead animals, road kill and the same stores you saw twenty miles ago and the same food offered and the same gas stations. The people are different, the pictures look the same. The one town looks like another America, where everybody eats the same food wears the same clothes. There is no more middle America with it's personality and character, there is only the same. And it looks like we have to live with it, whether or not we like it.

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