Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dust in the Wind

Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. -- Ecclesiastes 1

Nothing is permanent in this world. This is a law of nature that transcends all things, including blowhards about to become President of these United States.

In my little New Jersey town I only have to walk a few miles to what used to be the property of the state-run Greystone psychiatric hospital. I have not written much about Greystone lately because once the old Kirkbride building came down, all the protests and shouting ended. The hospital moved to state land at the western-most part of the property and the much of the rest was sold for $1 to become Central Park of Morris County.

Kirkbride, as it was. (Margo D. Beller)
MH and I took our walks, thinking it odd that there was just a lot of space at the end of the road behind a storm fence instead of the hulking, stone building, a building it took close to a year to take down because it was put up to last.

There had been plans to build housing here, doing lip service to the preservationists by promising to use part of the old building to house a mental health museum. However, the whole plan died, thankfully. It would've created too much traffic and cost to provide services in one of the few, large, open spaces in a crowded part of northern Jersey. 

The other day I drove us to the end of the road and discovered the fences were gone and big boulders or huge tree logs lined the edge to keep out ATVs. However, there were no signs saying people could not walk in there. And that is what we did.

Looking south -- The ground had been frozen but recent rain made it muddy and spongy in parts. (Margo D. Beller)

Looking north -- It is hard to believe I am standing where one of the largest, continuous foundations in the world once stood. (Margo D. Beller)

Looking west -- You can't see it well here but there is a road between the hill and the field. On the other side of the road and to the right is what is now Greystone hospital. (Margo D. Beller)

Looking east -- You can see the rocks and logs put in to keep ATVs out. Beyond is Central Ave. heading back to my town. (Margo D. Beller)
I stood on this field for a long time, even as MH went back to the car. It took a very long time to take the building down, remove the mountains of stones, fill in the former foundation, put in grass and then leave it all alone until it was deemed time to remove the fences, that the danger to people like me was past.

I stood here, thinking of the human condition. Here was this huge building, built to last as I said, and then it's gone, as if it never even happened.

Dust in the wind.

We can build our monuments to ourselves, our legacies, but when circumstances intervene - a change in presidential administration, global warming, a nuclear holocaust or just everyday dying - it all means absolutely nothing in the long run.

This field, where I look forward to hiking and looking for birds when winter is finally done, is proof of that.

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