The Ranch - that 90 acres or so of Heaven I spend part of every day scheming to get back to - was actually originally part of a much larger portion of land owned at one time by my Great-Aunt and Uncle, who originally lived here. The part that my parents own - the 90 acres with the Meadows - and the house above on the hill that my Aunt and Uncle own plus 20 acres and an additional 120 acres they purchased - were the gem and the developed part of the property. The rest of the land - I am not sure how much, but quite a bit - was sold to a distant relation that had some sort of plans to eventually develop the property. If helpful as an image, think of an avocado: the Ranch is the pit, the surrounding fruit flesh the other land.
The potential for the surrounding land to be developed has thus always been there since the early 1980's. Nothing really materialized over that time: brush was cleared, permits were gotten, then extended, then re-extended. The original owner passed and his family is now in possession of the property.
When I took my walk looking at fallen trees yesterday and got beyond the gate of our land, I noticed a thing I had not seen before. You can see in the lower right corner of the picture.
The road is now rocked in.
Not just graveled in, rock in. Big, solid pieces of fist-sized gray rock from where the road out branches to go up to the higher level of the property all the way back to the main road.
This cost someone actually money. This is a new thing.
This was always the way it was going to be, of course. I am a pretty staunch believer in private property and the rights of people to do (within limits, of course) what they would like, even as I inwardly decry the fact that this sort of development ruins perfectly good land that will never be the same. At the same time, my money is not tied up in land that is essentially doing nothing but running up a tax bill (Note: Were governments actually concerned about overdevelopment, they would limit or perhaps even eliminate taxes on undeveloped land. Sadly, their "love" of the environment is eclipsed by their love of tax revenue).
There are other small signs as well: The main road has had more traffic on it than I can recall in my lifetime. And for the first time from my parents' house, I can see a streetlight that someone has put up (thankfully in summer it is blocked by the trees, but it is there none the less).
I know that my Uncle (who owns the house and 120 acres) is sensitized to this as well; he and I have had more than one conversation about how to manage the land that he has, even putting it into a land trust to prevent it from being developed). It is on my mind as well; I am sure that at at some point the rocked in road will be rocked in or more, and the land around The Ranch will be filled with lights and houses and bar-be-cues music on the weekends and people feeling they are living "the good life" by being away from it all, all the time (for the most part) insisting that the modern world follow them in.
Potentially there still remain barriers, of course: the risk of fire and resulting cost of insurance is a real thing, along with the fact that even our short drive "to town" can become both costly and time consuming if one is making it every day. The recent power loss is likely going to be another factor for some people as well: while the power is not down for two weeks every year, it is down to the extent that it is something that one plans for here as a not irregular occurrence.
All of this, of course, is beyond my control. But what it does reinforce to me, more than ever, is that the - urge, desire, feeling? - to preserve this small plot of land from the larger world is something that is real. I may not be able to prevent development of the land all around, but I can perhaps prevent the development of this small part.
It is not sensible, of course, nor is terribly rational. But I sometimes wonder if this is how salmon feel recalled to the stream of their birth for no other reason that that is the place they are meant to be.