Sunday, September 7, 2008

(Part 2), Rabbit In The Grass: The Power of Denial

For the past few weeks I've been in a state of denial about something. Today, however, as I was riding my bike through the grounds of the local medical center, the truth I'd been avoiding, hit me full force. When the center was first being proposed, I was a member of our local land trust. We had been a successful group of environmental activists. Our first project had been an ambitious one - nothing less than preserving all of our town's ridge tops from future development. There were landowners who didn't want to grant us easements for hikers. One family owned land that had been deeded to their forbears by King James. Those people were actually very nice. They sympathised with our cause, but felt as if their ancestral ties were being threatened. One particularly nasty clan shouted at us during town meetings, calling us blankety, blank tree huggers. Our most formidable opponent was a very influential, major developer whose illegal excavation of a specially zoned mountain had sparked our efforts to save our geologically unique, "Hanging Hills". Following a six year battle by us, and other opponents of the developer, we were successful in acquiring enabling legislation at the state level to preserve, not only, our ridges, but those of nearby towns who wished to follow suit. Other lesser victories followed. One subsequent project which I had initiated was the saving of a wooded knoll on the property of the medical center mentioned at the start of the piece.

The idea to save the knoll came one day when I was standing on the top of a nearby mountain, and noticed that the knoll was the last natural buffer between the inner, and outer city. I thought it was important to preserve this unspoiled survivor, so I mentioned it to the land trust. They took up the cause, and ultimately, secured an agreement with the hospital to save the knoll. Land trust members cleared a trail through the trees, and one member constructed, and installed a beautiful bench with a tiled, mosaic seat.

A few weeks ago, the hospital destroyed a huge part of the hill - including, all of our trail - to make room for additional parking spaces. To make matters worse, the hospital could have chosen other options that wouldn't have impacted the knoll.

Since the day the excavation began, a part of me simply refused to accept that the knoll had been destroyed. I just numbed out. But, today, as I was riding by the site, my protective screens collapsed, and, suddenly, I apprehended fully what had been done. The knoll had been desecrated. The hospital had broken its promise to the land trust, and the city. Prior to this they had also broken other promises made to the neighborhood. I suppose we should have known better. When it comes to big business, an agreement that isn't in writing, is as good as non-existent.

This morning, I as I stood staring at the devastation, I saw , to my right, a red-tailed hawk flying off in the direction of the mountain on which I had first recognized the importance of the knoll. I thanked hawk for averting my glance from the destruction, and placing my attention on that beautiful mountain. At least, the mountain was something that would never be taken away - something that our small band of activists had been instrumental in saving for all times.

The winter before the hospital was to be built, I sat on the knoll, in a *snowstorm, knowing it would be the last time I would see the field below in its natural state. That field was particularly dear to me. You see, that was the same grassy field in which I had glimpsed the magical rabbit that I talked about in my series, "Rabbit In The Grass". I wrote this piece because I felt it was necessary to mark the loss of the knoll. It's my way of honoring one of the countless, little, miracles of nature that disappear from our sentient world every day. More often than not, the disappearance of these precious entities barely raises an eyebrow.

As I was nearing the completion of this article I had a surprising revelation. I realized the reason I chose the rabbit story as the topic for the first installment of my series dealing with the magical side of life, was precisely, because the knoll's demise had been tucked in the back of my mind during these last weeks. This was also the reason why I named the series after that same incident. I could have chosen any one of a hundred other stories that were equally magical in nature. That none of this occurred to me until now is a stunning example of the power of denial.

Well, it's time I wrapped this up. I plan to spend the remainder of the day alone in the woods, licking my wounds. In Part 3, I hope to tell you about a spooky experience I had in a most unusual guest house. Until then stay in the flow. Glen

*If you'd like to see a painting inspired by that moment when I was standing in the snow above the field, click on the picture above "YouTube" on the sidebar of my blog: The painting is called "Snowman". It's the last picture on the slideshow, and the only black and white piece.

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