It was another warm and sunny day here in Jacksonville, a trend that is supposed to continue through the weekend, at least. I, diligently and without regret, continue to work hard to keep up with my college coursework but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the pull of the outdoors. Someone suggested to me yesterday that I consider studying outside. It is a wonderful idea, on paper, but I have language labs online and books and worksheets galore and it only becomes more of a hassle to collect it all and relocate. Instead, I’ve been using the outdoors as a means to treat myself after hours of hard work in the morning.
Today was no different, except that I had nowhere in mind to visit. All of my previous outdoor walks have been planned, albeit on the fly, but still. Google Maps and navigation were sometimes involved or maybe I just had an idea to visit a certain area and figured out where to go from that predetermined starting point. This time I just hopped in my car and headed north. I wasn’t sure where to go.
My drive took me around Nassau County and the city of Jacksonville for a good ninety minutes or so. I went through Yulee, a town with which I am very familiar, and over to Callahan, a smaller town known for its rural way of life and its offerings of peace and quiet. It had been years since I’d travelled to Callahan (my last visit was during the Blueberry Festival in which I discovered vendors selling pre-packaged blueberries they’d purchased from the grocery store – seriously?) but I remembered it being dotted with farms and narrow dirt roads that ran parallel to shallow marshes and creeks.
Instead, I found this:
And directly across the street, I found this:
The Jacksonville area is littered with scenes just like this one. Areas that had once been cleared of all vegetation and trees, in anticipation of apartments or new multi-family subdivisions, are common, but I’ll admit this is a first. Here is a previously hacked area experiencing a rebirth, a revival, new life and a second chance, yet directly across from it is another area, still suffering from the wounds and slashings of a clearing party. It all just seems very wasteful to me.
There are 64 acres near my house that were cleared for apartments back in 2006. The economic collapse took the project with it, leaving the plot of land empty and barren. I used to drive past it every day to get to work and I was able to watch the project from beginning to abandonment. It’s still there, but at least the land has had a few years to recover and restore itself. The road that passes this empty space is the most convenient route for me to get to the airport or to my nearest Starbucks, but another nearby road is behind barricades now. Only local residents are allowed to drive past the barriers I have no idea what things are looking like over there. I can only hope they left some trees.