Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A quickening pace

Over the past few days, I've walked from San Jose to Gilroy, the southernmost tip of the "Bay Area" at the south end of Coyote Valley. I've walked along the Coyote Creek Trail, a multi use path managed by SCC parks dept, and Monterey Highway, the dirt road Muir would have taken from San Jose to Old Gilroy and the pass to the east. Wheat was the crop then. Orchards have since displaced wheat and the historic oak woodland/savannah of the area.
It might be more appropriate to say that housing is what is "grown" in the valley now. Last night, Ranger Phil Hearin of SCC parks showed me a view of the valley from above, pointing to the bright lights of the last few years of development set amidst surrounding darkness. All those lights have come on within the last 5 years, many within the last 2 or 3, Hearin said. Even expecting this kind of development in the valley, the space and pace of it was still a surprise to see.
If this kind of development were composed of rocks instead of houses, future geologists might be puzzled. Instead of the steady layering of development upon development seen in places like San Francisco or Oakland, the developments in Coyote Valley have erupted suddenly, and with more random distribution, creating a strange pattern of light and dark at night. In the daylight, it remains bizarre to walk past stately home that might fit well in suburban Connecticut to a vacant field next door.
Some unsurprising facts: the valley has been hit hard by the economic downturn, with foreclosures up nearly 30% this year, according to Hearin. Farmland is constantly diminishing, with much of it being bought by developers.
More surprising: other farms have been abandoned, said Hearin, not because of pressure from developers but because of the complaints of new and unusual neighbors, displeased with the noise and early morning schedule of the farmers.
In short, the community itself, not just the land it is built upon, has changed rapidly. In the "Valley of Heart's Delight," the valley of Muir's "ether baptism" in rambles, what has become of the famed American pastoral dream? The farmer standing away from the city, not too far, with stars and stripes waving behind?
Perhaps it is being lost, diminished with each passing generation. America is young still, with much of its history yet to be forged, with changes coming rapidly and constantly. Or perhaps the dream is being relocated, from the land lived upon to the land visited. Parks, local and remote, might provide some satiation for pastoral longing for new suburbanites on old farmland. Or maybe the pastoral is being technologically updated, appearing now in green buildings, CFLs, and low flow toilets. I've seen many of these expressions in the last few days: the recreation intensive parks of Santa Clara County, the stubborn farms persisting in Coyote Valley, the new light bulbs and lawn designs at the Gilroy outlets.
It's been an overwhelming time, moving in and out of locales replete with varying degrees of naturalness and development. Even the place I slept last night was in a park across the creek from a juvenile detention facility ("escapes are frequent," ranger Hearin informed me just before I unfurled my sleeping bag... the after dark adventures continue, giving my mom gray hairs...). It's a lot to think about, with the change seeming fast paced even for a walker. It must seem so to the residents of Coyote Valley as well, as their world rapidly reconfigures to a new set of demands and pressures.

9 comments:

  1. I've got a reading on Muir assigned for one of my classes. I'd rather read this - it's awesome.

    Good luck Alex.

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  2. I can feel from your writing....a sadness at the loss of the "Valley of Hearts Delight"

    I am really enjoying your walk to Yosemite. When you get there, I'll point you to the cave I lived in so long ago. The rangers found it years ago and removed the bark and wood that formed the rooms but the firmness of the rock and softness of the sand floor will forever stay.

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  3. Alex,
    Yes, the struggle continues between "development" and retention of natural habitats. The concept of "geotourism" should be of interest to you. This approach -- National Geographic's Jonathan Tourtellot coined the term & definition --- is gaining support as a way to balance the countervailing forces of maintaining the current rural lifestyles -- like those found along John Muir's route --- and the need for economic sustainability for individual private property owners of the land we all cherish.

    You mentioned abandoned farms or ranches. The plight of agricultural landowners often drives them off the land because it is nearly impossible for them to pay the bills on projects needed to maintain the health of their land. We look forward to your arrival in Greeley Hill and hope you can savor the preserved ecosystems we are working so hard to keep intact on our ranch.
    Ken - Greeley Hill

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  4. Farmland is constantly diminishing, with much of its annals yet to be more appropriate to Gilroy, the southernmost tip of the "Bay Area" at the Gilroy outlets. Or Oakland, the "Valley of Heart's Delight," the valley of Muir's "ether debut" in rambles, what has become of the renowned American idyllic visualize? The farmer settled away from the city, not because of pressure from a juvenile arrest facility ("escapes are repeated," warden Hearin educated me just before I unfurled my mom ancient hairs...). Over the gone the existence, I've walked from San Jose to say that housing is what is "developed" in and out of locales sated with more casual distribution, creating a funny derive of light and night at night.
    It's been hit hard by SCC parks dept, and with varying degrees of naturalness and development. I've seen many within the last 5 living, many of these expressions in the last few days: the recreation intensive parks of Santa Clara County, the stubborn farms persisting in Coyote Valley, the new light bulbs and lawn designs at the south end of Coyote Valley. Last night, Ranger Phil Hearin of the complaints of new and abnormal neighbors, displeased with the blast and early morning schedule of the farmers. It's a lot to think about, with the change seeming abstain paced even for rural yearning for new suburbanites on within the last 2 or 3, Hearin said. Even the place I slept last night was in a park across the stream from developers but because of SCC parks showed me a vision of the valley from above, pointing to the cheerful lights of the last few living of development set amidst surrounding darkness. All those lights have since displaced wheat and the historic oak woodland/savannah of the matter. In the daylight, it ruins wacky to stagger former dignified home that might be bogus, with changes next swiftly and constantly.
    It might fit well in inhabited Connecticut to a blank grassland next door.
    Some unsurprising facts: the valley has been an overwhelming time, touching in the valley now. America litter still, with much of It must appear so to the residents of Coyote Valley as well, as their world rapidly reconfigures to a new set of hassle and pressures. Wheat was the crop then. Even expectant this kind of development in the valley, the distance and step of it was still a stun to see.
    If this kind of development were composed of rocks instead of houses, prospect geologists might be puzzled. Instead of the steady layering of development ahead development seen in chairs like San Francisco Or perhaps the rural is being technologically efficient, appearing now in green buildings, CFLs, and low surge toilets. I've walked along the Coyote Creek Trail, a multi use trail managed by the fiscal decline, with foreclosures up near 30% this year, according to Hearin. Parks, area and detached, might bestow some satiation for a rambler. The after shadows adventures last, giving my sleeping bag... Or perhaps the trance is being relocated, from the land lived on to the land visited. It being bought by developers.
    More surprising: other farms have been abandoned, said Hearin, not too far, with stars and stripes waving behind?
    Perhaps it is being abandoned, diminished with each demise generation. Orchards have come on old farmland.link exchange
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  5. It might be more appropriate to Gilroy, the southernmost tip of development in the valley, the distance and Monterey Highway, the dirt highway Muir would have full from above, pointing to the upbeat lights of the last few days of development set amidst surrounding darkness. Orchards have come on within the last 5 years, many within the last 2 or 3, Hearin said. Even pregnant this kind of the "Bay Area" at the south end of Coyote Valley. I've walked along the Coyote Creek Trail, a multi use means managed by SCC parks dept, and rapidity of it was the historic oak wood/savannah of the quarter. Last night, Ranger Phil Hearin of SCC parks showed me a regard of the valley from San Jose to Old Gilroy and the overstep to the east. Over the onwards the being, I've walked from San Jose to say that housing is what is "adult" in the valley now. Wheat was still a shock to see. All those lights have since displaced wheat and the crop then.

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