My mom and aunt always scolded me, “You can’t stop progress”, when I would complain about our town changing. I was 19 and in college so I knew a lot about the way things should be. Since I was a liberal I whined.
Mom and Aunt Mary grew up on a dairy during the Depression. Their lives were simple, but rich. Complaining was left for real reasons. It was not accepted lightly. My noise about increasing traffic and crowding was not tolerated.
Since those years Highway 12 has widened to four lanes. The near lane is twenty feet from the middle of the living room. When the nearby stoplight turns green it sounds like a motor speedway just outside the front door. There is no garden out there – no lawn with an apple tree. Instead there are four traffic lans and a concrete median strip.
This valley was quite rural when I grew up. It was one ridge over from town. Grandpa donated the land for the firehouse. He forgave debt during the FDR years and even signed over small plots of land to friends.
The family grocery and feed store were also swallowed by the Highway 12 widening. They are gone now. That’s progress. When I visit my aunt and uncle I hear sounds coming up from the prune orchard. I see invisible sadness in their faces. The sounds aren’t axes chopping Chekhov’s cherry orchard. They are nail guns.