Topic: "Small Gray Planet"(2)
For many years, after white men first arrived, the forests of the Shire became farmland. It was a meager existence, probably not much improved from that of the hunters and gatherers who left pieces of flint all about. The farms have now given way to houses, and schools, and shopping centers, and the value of the land now exceeds all that was earned off of it since the very beginnings of time. Frodo has seen much change.
When the school was built behind the Shire, the engineers decided that the land had to be lowered some thirty feet in order to establish a firm base for construction. One day, Frodo noted the farmer who sold the land for the school, and he had pulled a lawn chair out into the middle of the construction site, thereon smoking an unfiltered cigarette and observing the movements of the biggest bulldozers Frodo had ever seen. Frodo assumed that this was some sort of agrarian protest, and he shuffled on off to discuss the matter with the farmer, a veteran of the South Pacific during WWII.
The farmer pointed to the jagged edge of an apparent boulder, slowly being unearthed. He told Frodo that he was not out there in protest, but to contemplate a bit of revenge. The boulder, he noted, was in the main area of his annual plowing for over thirty years, and today it would be plucked from the earth, and no longer be of concern to the farmer, No more would he have to struggle, mule-and-plow, around that damned rock.
The rock stands today at the entrance to the school in the Shire, only a few feet from the spot it occupied for centuries. The farmer, whose name adorns the school, is no more. It would have been appropriate for his ashes to have been interred in that spot, so thinks Frodo.
Today, the hillside that grew back from farmland into pine forest is now being levelled; this time for upscale clustered homes and "green space." Frodo, Fiona, and Mick, the Wonder Dog, walked about the construction site, and looked for the hawk who nested annually in the tallest of trees thereabouts. Only blackbirds circled the winter sky. The farm pond that tempted Frodo to climb a fence after dark and cast a lure to Mr. Largemouth Bass has been drained. A single duck waddles about the muddy bottom, looking, Frodo supposes, for a final morsel in a lifetimes' feeding ground.
How green, thought Frodo, this Shire must once have been. Despite the comparative lushness of the Shire, it is distinctly the residence of human and halfling now, unlike, surely, what it was just 250 years ago.
In front of the Bank of the Shire there sits another great rock, saved from the construction of that edifice and exhibited for the curious. On that great rock there are spots where corn was ground into bread, and pieces of flint were sharpened, knife-like. There are also, for now, inexplicable designs and carvings.
Frodo thought about getting a lawn chair, smoking an unfiltered cigarette, and contemplating that rock. The parking lot was crowded however, and people would have thought that Frodo was crazy. Perhaps that, as scientists seem finally to acknowledge, is, indeed, the problem.