On Mountains, History, and Private Property…
This was my view from my porch last week. Each morning I sat, coffee steaming in the cool morning temperatures, and looked out at Grandfather Mountain, said to be named by early settlers who saw the face of an old man’s profile in the outline of the peaks against the sky. The Cherokees, who were here for hundreds of years before, called it Tanawa (famous bird), but it appears that, as so often happens, settlers eclipse Native Americans.
Somebody owned this mountain, at least until about ten years ago when it was, sort of, donated to the North Carolina Park Service. I say “sort-of,” since the attraction side of the mountain (a walk across a swinging bridge and the opportunity to see animals that don’t realize that they are on display) charges a hefty fee of $20 to enter. Now all proceeds do go toward the maintenance of the mountain, but I can’t help but wonder how much of the huge parking lot and resultant facilities would have to be maintained were it just a mountain. (Oh yes, I developed quite a curmudgeonly attitude during that week.)
And now I move on to gated communities in those mountains that are somehow owned, remembering a few hundred years, when the mountains were just there – to be seen, explored, when the Cherokees, who had no concept of “private property,” lived off and respected the land. On this trip, I was incensed to find one gated community after the other, gates closed for what, I’m not sure. To keep out whom/what? For surely the bears and other animals whose habitat we have hijacked with our need for vistas to comfort and ease the stress of our days can walk right around them. So, to keep the gargantuan SUVs from what, befouling our golf courses set at 5,000 feet altitude? Is this what we have become? That we can appreciate the land only while sitting in our Adirondack-styled rockers, sipping our Makers’ Mark bourbon and enjoying the land that our forefathers worked, while making sure those who once lived here were sent West and put on reservations?
Well, I guess so. And the irony is not lost on me that I, in fact, was sitting in such a gated community while my husband and I rented a condominium that gave us this gorgeous view.
Cognizant dissonance, you say? I’ve got it in spades.