Saturday, July 21, 2007

If You Had to Land in Texas

If you had to land in Texas, Joshua and surrounding areas might be the best place to land. Not politically, as Johnson County, in which Joshua sits, is a snakepit of old boy screwups, from the police to the DA to the Narco squad: AS the mayor of one of Johnson County's two big cities recently told me: "If a jury has the option of giving someone 2-to-20 years, they'll often ask the DA whether they can add a few to the 20. That's just Johnson County."
But aside from that evil, the physical is freaking bucolic: lush rolling hills, large farms, horses nibbling flowers everywhere you look, cows and goats and rabbits and you know you hit Joshua when you smell dead skunk--which is a scent I've come to love as it represents home. There's possum and raccoon, fish in every one of the 40 lakes in the surrounding 20 miles, dogs running in gorgeous packs on the roadways, roadrunners scuttling along the highways, more hummingbirds, cardinals and bluejays than I've ever seen before; scissortail blackbirds feasting on the trash left in the Walmart parking lot by drivers who dump their half-finished slurrys under their cars. And trees: when it rains enough, as it has this year, Johnson County, and Joshua in particular, can rival any urban forest I know, outside of the Amazon.
That said, because it's so gorgeous, and because Fort Worth, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, is so close--just nine miles to the city limits in a couple of directions--the developers have come in since I arrived in 2002 and built maybe 25,000 homes here. Old 500 acre farms are divvied up into 8 homes per acre and the McMansions--small ones going for $80 grand, the larger ones, at 3,000 square feet on a 5,000 square foot lot going for $150-$170 grand--can get squeezed in by the thousands. So in many places where there were wide open spaces just 5 years ago there are now hundreds and thousands of homes built so closely together you can hear your neighbors argue. Or watch them shower, if that's your thing.
And because the building boom is going on so heavily here, a new road needs to be built to accomodate people trying to get to work in the Fort Worth area. And that road has caused the county to come and condemn a 30-foot swath across my front yard. That's 30-feet by 300-feet and it's not only eating the distance between our house and the country road in front of it--taking out 13 tall red-tip bushes and two beautiful trees that have given us privacy from prying eyes--but eating our very very beautiful large front yard. We'll still have the side yard, the back yard, the very back yard, the garden on the hill, but none of them will be private anymore once the road's been widened. And in their generousity, the state found it possible to give us $14 grand for the land, the fencing, the bushes, the trees, the driveway, the basketball hoop area and the yard.
Now I'm not saying I'm against progress--though I've been called a Luddite more than once and still can't get a DVD to play on the television--but I think that taking the Gorman homestead is a step in the wrong direction. Obviously, I'm only a force of 6 here, assuming I'm backed by Chepa, Italo, Marco, Madeleina and Sierra (though at 18-months she's not eligible to vote yet, I'm still considering her in my corner as her tree swing will be falling under the axe and I know she's ain't gonna be happy about that).
So bucolic Joshua, because it's so lovely, is becoming less lovely as people who want to live in this physical beauty cut trees and develop farms to give them access to it all. But when it's all said and done, there won't be any trees here. It will all be McMansions and everyone will be listening to everyone else's arguments and toilets flush and in ten years they'll be wondering why the hell they came to such a desolate place.
Ain't life full of ironies?
I'm just hoping someone will want to buy this place, even after it's been cut to ribbons, and that I can find a place further enough out that I don't have to worry about new roads for another 25 years.

No comments: