With cabin fever at its peak these days, I decided to get some exercise and fresh air. My lack of athletic sneakers (and capabilities) caused me to go for a walk, rather than a run. I’m glad I was able to slow down and take everything in. At first, I wasn’t sure why I had taken my camera, but as soon as I entered a certain development, it all became clear.
A few years ago, the ground I stood on to shoot the following photos was probably unsettled woods. Now, I stand on asphalt – not even a sidewalk.One afternoon, several years ago, I took a walk up Pulaski Street in Buttonwood. Coming to what would have been a dead end to traffic, I cut around a fence and traipsed through grass and gravel only to stumble upon a construction site. They were working on a suburban development that is now finished, complete with a caul-de-sac. At the time, I was fascinated by the magnificent views of the Susquehanna River and the towns across the river: West Nanticoke, Plymouth, Larksville, Kingston, etc. Now, those views are only avaible to me through the residents’ yards.I wonder if the homeowners pay more for the “view.” But what is this view of? One of America’s Top 10 Dirtiest Rivers? The aforementioned cities? More suburbs? The WVSA waste treatment plant?This surprise-paradise struck me just as hard this afternoon as it did the first time I discovered it hidden away high above the elementary school and out of sight from the shacks of Buttonwood. It does not seem to be a place I would like to live. True, the houses are gorgeous – some look like mansions and beach houses. But it is not a very progressive community. There are no sidewalks, each house has its own garage, huge yard (some with foreboding fences), and plenty of space for privacy. There is still some undeveloped land between this development and the pre-existing neighborhood. God forbid there is actually some space that no one has gotten their hands on!At the end of the caul-de-sac and grassy wasteland, there is a gate that never moves. On the Hanover Green side, a tree trunk shields the residents of Hanover Green from the eye sore that is Buttonwood. On the Buttonwood side, one can only stare up in awe from Pulaski Street, wishing to one day own a home as nice as these. But it all means nothing to me. But there’s something special about Buttonwood. Not only is it my childhood neighborhood, but it also has something in common with the beautiful new development just a gate away: the view.The houses may be smaller and much closer together, but the breathtaking eye candy of the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority remains the same. Plus, this neighborhood has sidewalks!In fact, this little community seems like just that – a community.The horrible truth of it all is that this poor little neighborhood does not appeal to those seeking shelter. Everyone wants the American Dream, and they can only seem to find it in developments with caul-de-sacs and huge yards. Buttonwood is crumbling before our eyes.I find myself in between. I don’t ever want to live in a suburb, and I probably will never afford a home like those on the caul-de-sac. But I don’t live in the run down part of Buttonwood. I love my privacy just as much as the next guy, and there have been days I never left the premises of my yard. My only neighbor is away for a month, so I might as well have a huge yard around me as a cushion. But I’d like to think I am not retrogressive in my lifestyle. My view is just as spectacular as anyone else’s.This place needs help. Hanover Township is a mini-America – the rich get richer and poor get poorer. There is a huge gap between those with really nice houses and those with almost nothing. I’d like to think my humble home is kept up pretty well, but there is still so much abandonment and destruction around me. I think that I have the best view of all – MY point of view. I see the way this neighborhood is changing, and it’s not for the better. However, there will still be countless others with that unattainable view.