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Posts Tagged ‘Granite Ledges’

Last weekend I decided to visit a place that I hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years. It’s called Sunset Rock and is a place that is locally cherished for its unmatched view of the city of Keene, New Hampshire. My friends and I spent many hours there and in the surrounding forest when I was a teen. We even camped there several times. Though it is called a rock, it is actually a ledge.

This is the view that I remember from so long ago but the problem is, this is not the same sunset rock that my friends and I used to visit so often.  This one is higher up on the hill-called beech hill because of its many beech trees. I also went to the sunset rock that my friends and I knew and the trees had grown up to all but obscure the view. I’m not sure who found this new sunset rock or when, but I’m glad they did. (Even though I had to huff and puff my way farther up the hill!)

When I was growing up Keene was always called a town but in 1964 it was awarded the title “All American City” by the National Civic League. Each year the League bestows this honor on 10 cities that have demonstrated “innovation, inclusiveness, civic engagement, and cross sector collaboration by describing successful efforts to address pressing local challenges.”  Since receiving the award Keene has thought of itself as more a city than a town, even though it only had slightly over 23,000 residents listed in the 2010 census.

This is a photo of Keene’s Main Street from the 60s. It was once said to be the widest paved main street in the world.

Keene has changed and grown some over the years, but it will always be a town to me. 

As you arrive at or leave Sunset Rock, this is what you pass under. This was not on the top of this hill when I was young and, even though I’ve seen the little red light blinking off in the distance at night, I was surprised to see it. I was a little angry at first but after a while I decided that it was all about what the majority of people want.  Here in Keene this is the price that the majority is willing to pay for good cable TV and cell phone reception.

I can understand the need for and even the want of such things but when I realize that there are parts of this world that I have seen which are now impossible for my children to see, I get worried. They will never get to see the top of this hill as nature intended, and I can’t help wondering how many other views they will lose before we stop and ask ”good Lord-what have we done?”  Maybe before we let such things happen we should stop and think about their impact not just on ourselves, but on future generations as well. Maybe we should ask ourselves not only what are we leaving them, but  what we are taking from them as well.

As I walked back down the hill I was able to turn my focus away from the negative and think instead about the things that could never be taken away.

The startlingly beautiful red of an oak leaf will always be with them. Streams will always cascade down from the hilltops. 

Farmers will always mow their meadows and deer will always feed at the edges of them.

And forests will always be mysterious, misunderstood places.

I have to admit that there is plenty of nature left for my kids to see and I don’t suppose you can miss what you’ve never had but still, knowing that I have seen things that they will never see gives me a feeling that is hard to describe. It’s something I can imagine feeling if I were leaving home knowing I’d never return- a kind of lonesomeness, I think.

Sorry if I’ve used this blog as a soapbox but, as A.A. Milne once said: “You can’t always stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

Thanks for taking the time to visit.

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