What was true then is true today. No amount of “mitigation” or promises by profiteers and politicians will ever make up for the follies of humankind.
Vermont has made too easy a peace with both large-scale development and the destruction it often entails. The euphemistic “working landscape” pardons a multitude of environmental sins: Mountaintops are scalped for industrial wind; ski areas metastasize into high-priced subdivisions and amusement parks; Lake Champlain, our “Great Lake,” turns green from agricultural and urban run-off.
Who then can lead us? In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck marveled at the wisdom and strength of desert people, who had learned to live in a harsh and austere environment. They could show humans the way out of the war against themselves, and the desert might become “the last stand of life against no life.” The desert, according to Steinbeck, could mother magic things.
So might it be for the mountains, never easy places to live. Our mountain people, “uphill Vermonters” far from the pavilions of power, might be the ones to lead Vermont away from this madness. Let us hope we might say of our dear little state among the dark green hills, “The mountains have mothered magic things before this.”
We need that magic. Let us be magicians together!