We pushed as hard as we could to save the Merrimon Magnolia, but sadly we were unsuccessful, as we’ve just learned from a TV news reporter.
It was always a long shot, stymied at every turn by a lengthy history of other people’s environmentally stupid decisions: The car lot for whose sake the Pack mansion was razed some 40 or 50 years ago left the site a brownfield, and Harris Teeter says it’s legally required to grade the entire property, leaving no place on-site for the tree. All the surrounding streets are strung with low-hanging tangles of utility wires because Asheville has never required that they be buried, so the tree could not be transplanted to a nearby park. Our supposed “Tree City USA” has neither rules nor incentives for preserving landmark trees, and local developers in general are astonishingly ignorant about how they could, and why they should, care for them and make them focal points of their projects.
After I got the bad news today I made a mournful pilgrimage to a Hecate crossroads a mile or two from our Covenstead. As I walked home I noticed I was following the course of a stream running half-hidden through that neighborhood’s backyards. No matter how many parts of it developers had covered over with fill or pavement down through the decades, that stream still flowed, unstoppable. When I got to the main road, I realized the stream’s source was a small spring that bursts stubbornly through a crack in the asphalt driveway of a commercial parking lot.
We humans prate loudly at our podiums about our absolute rights to private property, but Nature just sits in the back row and smiles at our arbitrary claims to own and control and commodify Her. She’s the only real property owner, and She wins every argument in the end.