Published Somedays

You see a lot when you ride a bike

(updated: Jul 21, 2008)

Tonight I took a ride around the neighborhood on my commuter. It was hot. And humid. But it felt great as long as I was moving. First place I wanted to go was across highway 17. There is a neighborhood across 17 which is now isolated by the new highway and accessible only by car, like most places around here. While it's not the best neighborhood, it's now been marginalized to where some developer is going to get a steal scooping up and consolidating the subdivision to build big box stores and strip malls. Perhaps even the county will chip in and condemn properties via eminent domain in a sweetheart deal for the investor(s). All in the name of economic growth, the dominant religion of our country.

I traveled along the road but it abruptly ended, a road to nowhere for now. Once this area is developed people will exclaim with rabid glee how much better it is, and I will simply resolve to endure living life as a trapped rat in a metal cage. I will look up at the night sky to see it awash with light, energy wasted on illuminating empty streets and parking lots because some code says you have to.

I used to be an amateur astronomer, but then I got tired of having to travel farther and farther away just to be able to see stars. Without amateur astronomers, we won't detect the meteor that will end all life on the planet. As if we need a meteor to do that when we seem to be doing the job just fine, admittedly at a much slower rate.

I got back on 17 and rode down the bypass on the shoulder, first time since they opened it up to traffic in '06. It wasn't bad, a lot more debris on the road. Really not any worse than River Road - the cars are going about the same speed. What difference does it make once cars are going a few mph anyway? You just have to be careful crossing on and off ramps.

I wanted to check out "the lake", which is turned out to be a large drainage pond with trash in it. You don't realize just how much garbage lines our streets and highways until you go by bike. The "lake" was fenced off anyway, but just past it was an old cemetery. So I had to check it out.

It was the Futch family cemetery, with headstones dating way back to the 1800's. Some larger ones for the head of the family, and then a few smaller ones for the children and relatives, and finally numerous small unmarked rectangular stones, which could have been relatives, or possibly slaves.

I wouldn't like it if my final resting place was now next to a noisy highway of death. I say that because of the sheer amount of roadkill I witnessed while riding my bike.

After returning to Futch Creek Rd., I ventured over to Porter's Neck road to check out another cemetery that was discovered when pillaging land for yet another isolated development of overpriced chipboard boxes that pass for homes these days. This was the Nixon cemetery, although I didn't see any Nixon headstones, only a single Foy headstone (as in Foy Creek). I believe there were more but they could have been stolen (they aren't large and someone could have easily carried them away). Just seemed odd that there was only one given the elaborate arched entrances and metal fence the developer was forced to put up around it.

After this I continued down Porter's Neck road, assaulted continuously by large SUVs. If aliens were investigating the planet and landed here, they would likely think SUVs ruled the world and their leader lived in Porter's Neck somewhere.

I came to the development across Futch Creek road, a growing labyrinth of huge 4000sqft, 3 car garage, two-story entrance, energy wasting McMansions with numerous Escalades, Yukons and Hummers adorning the driveways. Despite having rained over 4" this weekend, sprinklers were running, some watering the street.

There used to be a farm and woods here when I first moved to Wilmington. The owners had a nice house that looked like it was built not very long ago, and an orchard. The house was now gone, as the orchard, and in their place were lot signs. I ran into someone I knew, and he pointed out another cemetery discovered while "making room" for more housing. I told him about the one along the bypass but he'd never noticed - typical of life viewed from a cage.

This one was a bit larger than the others, with more headstones dating all the way back to even before 1800. I'm sure the developer was unhappy about this finding, because that's one or two less lots for sale and more cost. The majority of these graves were Nixon or Nichols. I think they may realize now they misnamed the previous site.

The most interesting thing was the many young children who had died. One grave with a nicer headstone was just one year old. Another was three. And a 17 year old who died in 1796 had the most distinguished looking headstone, clearly readable while others were nearly completely eroded away. This demonstrates how hard life was back then, even for the prominent families of the time. Seeing these tombstones made it clear to me just how dependent on cheap energy and technology we've become. They had no grocery stores or convenience stores or fast food joints, no npk fertilizer or roundup ready genetically modified seeds, no motorized farm equipment or mass production, no wal-mart "warehouse on wheels" ready to serve our every need. There were no cars or roads or electricity. We take all these things for granted today.

Nobody wants to go back to hardship like this, so why have we created a society of constant growth and consumption forever based on an infinite supply of cheap oil? We're now a catastrophe waiting to happen.

You see a lot when you ride a bike.

-SBA



Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington



1 COMMENT:

1. Rock Head said...

Its nice to have the vehicle that takes you along the venue that usually never gets seen. Almost every morning I get to see things up close that you would not get to see enclosed in a "tin can"; countless rabbits, birds...including birds of prey, snakes, turtles...who need the occasional "help" while crossing the road, fox and all the little furry critters that make the quick run for the creek when they see you. Makes my day before I have to spend the rest of it in front of a computer.

Jul 23, 2008 @ 5:09 PM


 

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