Moving into mid-winter, with several feet of snow on the ground and only the heartiest of travelers on the roads, being pulled along in open sleighs while wrapped in thick woolen blankets. The only sounds are the soft clop of horse hooves in the snow and church bells in the distance.
Traveling west along the Old King’s Highway – you haven’t had a King on earth in over 70 years – you descend Sand Hill and cross Ford Swamp where the road curves inland toward the village. The road is known as Main Street here, and you pass the modest glass workers’ houses before you reach the Methodist Church, the Unitarian Church, larger houses, then the Central Hotel and the First Parish Church. Every church is ringing it’s bells and every respected citizen of the town is filing into one or the other – or perhaps the Catholic Church, down on James Street, near the glass factory.
There’s one more church up ahead. You round the corner toward the mill pond and SCREEEECH!! A policeman has traffic stopped as a large dump truck is directed onto the road to haul off a tremendous load of tree branches and trunks and roots. The sound of church bells is washed away by the roar of chain saws and heavy machinery, even through the closed windows of your SUV. Your sleigh replaced by a ton of glass and steel – two hooved horses replaced by 325 mechanical horses.
While you’re waiting for the trucks to clear you look up the hill and see the yellow and black claws of giant beasts devouring a tangled thicket of woods that have withstood 375 years of coexistence with European immigrants without being disturbed. Somewhere, a red fox is looking for a new home, and you wonder: Is this really necessary?
Terry Blake, Chair