Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #36

January 11, 2012: Greener Pastures

I go back and forth, some days thinking that we’ll stay put, and some days thinking that we’ll have to move. It’s a tough call. The scales seem to be equally weighted. I hope that there will soon be an end to my indecision.

Reasons for staying: I really like living here. In the winter this place is like a resort, minus the large numbers of people. We’re ringed by mountains, which are a bright orange pink in the late afternoons. The air is fresh, and the water’s clean. The immediate area is sparsely populated. We’re at the edge of the Matanuska Moose Range, which has numerous cross country ski, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding trails. We’re also a ways from the Glenn

Victoria Roberts New-Yorker-cartoon

Highway, so we don’t (as many do) hear the dull, unending roar of traffic.

Reasons for leaving: the primary one is that a strip coal mine might be going in a mile from where we live. This will undoubtedly change things around here. We’ll have to contend with coal dust, water pollution, and noise. Sound carries, especially in quiet areas, so we’ll have to deal with intermittent blasting. And there goes the Wishbone Hill Trail system.

What saddens me most about this is the loss of neighborly cohesion. We’re now being governed by a pro coal community council. They’re now doing to us what presumably we did to them, which is governing by means of exclusion, and going with their own fascist-based dictates. The heavy weight of oppression seems at times to rest upon all of our shoulders.

There’s yet another reason for moving, and this is that we need more land. We’ll soon have five horses on the premises. This is a small (2.5 acre) place, and our herd size is growing. We’ve both done quite well in getting all the horses out on a regular basis, but we know that having more land would make care and exercise less labor intensive. Plus, Raudi, Siggi, Tinni, Signy, and Hrimfari need more room to run around and be horses.

The prospect of moving gives me pause when I think about how much time and effort we’ve put into Squalor Holler. It’s called sweat equity. I don’t know if we can begin anew again. There are only so many times in which one can do what we’ve done. And dang it, we’ve finally got it so that the garden sites are productive. It’s time to kick back and reap the rewards of our efforts.

There is also the matter of regret. Pete and I often talk about the places we’ve owned. We purchased, and later sold places in Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Montana. Each place, like this one, was ideal. We moved for work-related reasons. If we left here, I’d also miss this place.

All in all, I’d really like to stay put. Ideally, the Usibelli coal company would nix their plans, and tie up the land so that no one else with designs on mining gets a hold of it. They’d open up a nature center, and in this way create much-talked about jobs. At the same time, property across the way would become available at a rock bottom price. I’d clean it up, put in fencing, reseed, and make it horse habitable.

The above is what I’m hoping for. However, I’m not going to do as a neighbor suggested, and wait around and see just how bad the coal mine situation gets, because this could lead to the point of no return, which is our being unable to sell. I also realize that our having to move would not be the end of the world. If we must go, I’ll do as I’ve done in the past, and look forward rather than backwards.

Next: 37. 1/12/12: Just Breathe Normally