Approaching Exit 21 on the Thruway, an inexplicable sense of weirdness suddenly permeated the drive north. At first I surmised that the early spring sky, low and leaden with moisture, could possibly be the cause of some atmospheric disturbance. But within another few seconds my mind was suddenly able to register what was “off”, as I slowed down and entered a construction zone.
The landscape, the center median to my left, had been stripped of all the trees, hundreds of trees, for an entire mile. They lay strewn as if giant pickup sticks, while their hacked and torn stumps jutted achingly from the earth. Construction machinery perched like steel vultures atop the exposed, jagged rock cuts, painful in their nakedness, glistening with mud like darkened blood as they were picked apart.
As I drove past the army of machines, the sudden disturbance became so palpable, the invisible vibration so crushing, so heavy, that I welled up and actually started to cry.
I have driven by hundreds of highway projects before without something like this occurring. I’ve even worked on highway projects myself in the past. There was nothing specifically emotional going on with me that day – it was actually a good time of day for a commute, with very little traffic, and I was just on my way to get a haircut.
Perhaps it was the size of this particular project that was causing a psychic outcry? I tried to find some otherwise logical explanation for the aura of sudden grief and disorientation, but could not shake the feeling of being witness to a massacre, to a rape, the trees copiously weeping, the birds in mourning, the earth so deeply sad. I have no doubt that this is exactly how it was, and yes, this is logical. To me it is logical.
Finally the “End Work Zone” sign appeared. An audible sigh actually escaped from my lips. I felt the tension release as my body sagged into the driver’s seat. The ribbon of gray road stretched ahead. As I drove on, it occurred to me that a highway itself is actually one long concrete cemetery, covering trees and wildlife homes that had once been.