Within about five square miles of my home there are three new "strip malls" under construction - you know, the little strip of four or five small storefronts, which usually contain nothing you're remotely interested in stopping for - a cell phone store, a quickie haircut place, insurance, cigarettes. Everytime I see an empty section of earth being sacrificed for one of these, or for another supermarket, or Walmart, or gas station, my heart just sinks a little. Why do we need all these places to purchase things? Wouldn't it be so much better to surround ourselves with more land, to cherish those few acres of soil and pond and greenery that are left to us? This poem of Mary Oliver's perfectly reflects my feelings.
What Was Once the Largest Shopping Center in
Northern Ohio Was Built Where There Had Been
a Pond I Used To Visit Every Summer Afternoon
Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.
Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?
Impossible to believe we need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.
Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.
And I suppose sometime I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in my heart.