Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Different roads

Roads, so many roads. There's the one I take to Rogowski Farm Saturday mornings, through Glenwood, crossing the Appalachian Trail where it winds on its boardwalk through the Wallkill wetlands, past the horse farm and Pochuck's Market, past the Apple Valley Inn with its cloyingly cute candy shoppe, then the Glenwood Mill, then the shaded corral where an old donkey keeps the gelded paint company, an easy road to bike, except for the speeders and the deer, finally crossing into New York State, past the road to Amity, into the valley of black dirt, of onion fields and sweet greens.

When Glenwood Road intersects Pine Island Turnpike, it changes names and becomes the Pulaski Highway. I can follow it all the way to Goshen, past Snufftown, Durlandville and Finnegans Corners, or I can make a right onto Pumpkin Swamp Road and head into Florida, New York with its Tru-Value hardware store. Then Seward Highway -- William H. Seward was born here -- back to Warwick, where it turns into Maple Avenue. In town, I turn right onto Grand Street which is called Pine Island Turnpike once you get out into the black fields, all the way to Edenville, with its fine deli and old colonial homes. There I turn left onto Blooms Corners Road, so quiet for a couple of miles, then fork right onto Newport Bridge Road, which leads to Prices Switch Road, past the ostentatiously ugly new McMansions on the ridge outside of Amity, adjacent to a still-working farm where chickens and goats go about their business, ignoring the Range Rovers and BMWs that come up their drive. If I go left here, I can see the Bobolink Dairy black grazers chewing and pondering life off Meadowburn Road, nestled in a dale at the back of a soft hillock. Prices Switch empties out onto Route 94 at Heaven Hill Farm, the road I take back into Vernon, then home.

I like these roads, for they follow the contours of the land, the Wallkill and its attendant streams, curvy vales between rocky knolls. So unlike the roads of my youth, that unnatural grid of straight pavement superimposed on the flat sands of Long Island. Roads that only went east-west or north-south, between Robert Moses's two parkways --
parkways! -- parallel to the ocean and the sound. Now they say Nassau County is dying. So the politicians and real estate rapists out there are going to try and revive it with a huge mixed-use development called The Lighthouse, to be built in the vast wasteland between Hempstead and East Meadow, where the Nassau Coliseum and Roosevelt Raceway were supposed to anchor the economy for years to come, a promise made years ago.

Yes. Development will save us from the effects of earlier development. Yes. This time we'll build it and people will come. Yes. This time we'll get it right. This time we'll build roads that lead somewhere. This time we'll plan for growth. This time we'll make it a place people will actually want to come and stay. This time. This time. This time.

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