Have you ever seen a cat that knows it has a mouse cornered under the refrigerator? That cat will sit there for days, totally attentive, waiting for the mouse to emerge. Cats are tenacious that way.
Housing developers are tenacious, too. Once they've bought a parcel of land, it doesn't matter how much common sense, local opposition, and state regulations stand in their way. They just keep sitting there, waiting for the pay day, waiting for that moment when a commissioner can be bribed, or the administration changes in the state capital, or the opponents run out of money for a land-use lawyer.
One such determined individual, Michael Carnock, has now been trying for years and years to get something built on a choice morsel of land that is hell-and-gone into the mountains of Western Maryland. The aforementioned morsel is called Terrapin Run, named after a delightful seasonal stream that tumbles through it.
Mr. Carnock's plans for a 4,000-unit, 11,000-person town in an area where there is currently nothing but a two-lane road and lots of woods has hit upon a few snags. As in, there aren't even any churches in the neighborhood, let alone schools, sewage treatment plants, or CVS pharmacies. Finally seeing the light, the bone-headed Mr. Carnock has scaled his plans back to 900 units. Even this has met with a polite but firm "no way" from Maryland's natural resources people. So of course Mr. Carnock is suing everyone in sight, like a cat whose coveted mouse slipped through a hole in the siding and escaped.
Sometimes, when developers buy mountain land and can't build cities on it, they timber it to smithereens. I've driven past Terrapin Run at least once a year for the past decade, and I don't think the land has been disturbed at all. (It had been timbered by previous ownership. That helps.)
Oh, but you should just see that pretty little stream, Terrapin Run! I know you've seen one like it. The water is so pure that you can count the stones on the bottom. And it makes that charming swishy, trickly noise that those cunning little dry run creeks make.
Awhile back, I placed an intention on that land and petitioned the Goddess Cloacina to guard it for me. She has been doing a fabulous job as the litigation drags on. In July I'll be going up that way again, so if you want to add your protective spells to the place and its sacred little stream, just communicate with me or Cloacina.
If all else fails, if Maryland is suddenly beset with a Koch brother as governor, or a clamor arises for housing units 35 miles from the nearest doctor, we still have an ace in our hands, my friends.
The Terrapin Run watershed is home to Harperella, a bona fide endangered plant that relies on seasonal fluctuations in freshwater streams. Granted, our federal endangered species laws are being trampled, but this plant literally only grows on two waterways. I'm pinning my faith on a little white flower.
We who love the land should love not to build on it where it otherwise has been undisturbed. That should be a tenet of sensible world stewardship. Rebuild before starting something new.
I'd be willing to bet that you're seeing such foolishness in your own community -- big, ugly developments springing up like pimples on a cheek, while nearby sit older neighborhoods just ripe for rehab.
If it's your lifetime dream to live in the mountains, take some advice from this expat Appalachian: Move to an established town. If you thought this past winter was bad, just re-live it in your mind, but add complete solitude and steep, windy roads to the mix. Mr. Carnock not only neglected to provide for churches and pharmacies when he proposed his fetching hamlet. He forgot all about the weather. He could have asked any Johnson. We'd have been glad to tell him how much and how often the flakes fly in that neck of the woods.
May no spade be turned on Terrapin Run. May no spade ever be turned on Terrapin Run. In this little slice of the world, may the peace of the land prevail.
Sermon's over! Time to watch a baseball game!