As with any small town budding metropolis, much of the watershed is concrete. I read in the paper that 43% of the Meridian corridor is parking lot. And we’re a conservative bunch. By this I mean we like our land, our land conservation. We don’t shop like you do. While we’re the 8th largest “city” (having lived in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and having spent much time in New York I have a hard time with this term here) in the state, we’re the 35th biggest spenders. We’re tentative consumers, and most of us are leaning toward sustainability in our own ways. Carol and I have a dozen fruit trees that bear much more than we can eat. I can look out my front window and see the neighbor’s chickens scuttling across the little road. I’m generalizing. We have a Wal-Mart too that I’m sure does good business. We have our mall on the other side of the freeway that caused our city center to cave substantially. What was once Macy’s hasn’t held anything since. That was before my time. From the street I like to look at the dormant escalators and imagine what the second floor looks like.
I’ve lived a lot of places bent on paving land, but this is the only place I’ve ever been where broken concrete sits in all the water. Much of the bay is lined with it, like parking lots have tried and failed to cover over these bits of nature too. All the waterways are lined with it, the bay, the creeks and streams. Maybe we’re just reusing? Getting spent concrete to keep erosion in check. Even in the “nice” park, the one where everyone takes their parents when they’re in town has these broken bits. And broken sheets of masoned brick as well. Rows and rows of it that I can’t tell whether they were street once or buildings.
This morning I walked the dog downtown, the same walk I always do. On Cornwall we cross the creek going into town, the little bridge that blends into the road. The creek sits between an office building full of insurance and lawyers with a gym I used to go to in the basement and an antique store painted a gaudy golden yellow that clashes with the sky no matter what the sky looks like. This pocket always smells like bleach and sweat, like the gym has leaked outside. It’s assaultive really. I know we’re becoming a city because there’s been a shopping cart for some time tipped sideways, half in half out of the water, casting strange eddies downstream of it. Today there were two. And what I thought was a body was only a sleeping bag caught on a low-slung branch and all stretched out in the current.