The Asphalt Scar

It began with animals. Perhaps the smallest. It was a way through the forests and brush to get to something to sustain them. It was perhaps the best way to reach the water. Or the best way to pass when the seasons changed. 

The way through for these animals drew other, larger animals. Some were predators who fed upon the smaller animals who used the way. Others used the way for the same reasons the smaller animals did. The grasses were worn and pushed aside where the animals passed through. Wood ticks hung from the stalks of grass along the way waiting for the warmth of a passing animal to attach themselves and to feed.

One day a man appeared and used the way of the animals. He was drawn to the way just as the animals were. He found it led to a lake. There were fine views of the mountains that surrounded the valley. He called the way down to the lake his own.

The man built his house upon the lake and the way of the animals that was now his own he named Lakeside Way. He had a family and they used the way and now the animals were scared off. It was a human way now. It was a path. 

Then, later, the way was laid over with cinders for horse and carriage, and later with pavement for automobiles for the families who now vacationed at the many homes upon the lake. 

Then the local planners dammed the river that fed into the lake and the valley was washed out. The damming was necessary for hydro-power for electricity in the city and the cost/benefit analysis made it right. The first man's home and the vacation homes were now under the waters of a much larger lake. 

But part of the old road remained. A much larger road that was being built by the federal government was paved over the old Lakeside Way that was not under the lake. The federal government called the new asphalt road an interstate highway. 

Animals were drawn to the highway for the food that sometimes was thrown from the vehicles. Other animals tried to pass over the highway and get to the waters of the lake but were run over by truck drivers who's company policy is not to avoid animals. 

Along the interstate highway were deer without heads; in one place there were hundreds of crushed jackrabbits who had attempted a group crossing. There were dead skunks and racoons and other smudges upon the road that were unidentifiable. Men in their automobiles crashed and maimed and killed one another. It became a place for scavenging and for death. The vehicles passed so quickly over it. The way of animals had become an asphalt scar upon the land. 


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  3. And what is incredible is how recent all of this has happened. The cyclists, especially the cyclo-tourists, notice this. The truck drivers rarely notice. The hot air balloonists haven't yet come to the table on the matter because they are cowards.

    In one movie, they blow away Dennis Hopper and he falls to the roadside.

    I rode across Brasil's great and perhaps last unpaved road. They had begun to pave sections. The destruction and transformation taught me much. I knew some day I would read an article on the subject matter that offered a phenomenological account of the matter, as you have offered. You have baptized what I have held in my bosom. A new child is born. Great black birds with great black feathers fly in the sky and scavenge on the ground. They squawk: "The large animal understands us."

    In Argentina, the opposite is happening: neglect of roads is causing them to peel away and become one with the land again. Soon young people will be able to famously italicize "ripio" so all and can understand its clandestine PELIGRO. O dios mio.


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