.

Forsythia and Pussy Willows

How 'progress," meant to improve life, can run amok.

Viola, N.Y.–Spring was once famous in this small hamlet, its name now almost forgotten in the greater growth of suburban and partly urban Ramapo Town. Just 25 miles from New York City, this area of Rockland County was until the 1960s largely rural–apple orchards and truck crop farming. The blossoms were extraordinary, and if Heaven could tempt with a preview, it did here.

You also knew spring was coming when the forsythia bloomed at the foot of the old Almshouse property–the county welfare and aged home and these days the site of a large community college. Though the area has changed so dramatically, if you look past the bustle,  you can still find the patch where yellow in annual brightness must have cheered some Almshouse residents at least. Even in Rockland Community College’s early days, 1962 or so, students in the library or in classrooms facing College Road could see the forsythia as well as the pussy willows favored by a particular friend who also liked cats. Now only the patch remains.

In the great scheme of things, and there always seems to be a scheme for anything, you could say who cares about some yellow flowers or furry catkins on twigs? Get with the program, man, you might admonish. Progress doesn’t have time to smell the flowers, right? Times change, and rural land and the farms that are kit and kin to them and once were to more of America simply must move aside for “Huggy Bear Estates” or that four-story, multi-family home, yes?  You can put a photo of the old forsythia above the mantle, for auld lang syne. The pussy willows can go in the umbrella stand in the two-story foyer.

You’ll never convince me, though, that progress should be a steamroller, that in the applaudable interest of perhaps providing better living through homes and backyards in suburbia, there isn’t a finish line when the dozers should cut their engines and we all say enough. I think the term for that is sensible planning, with the balancing of need and resource, infrastructure and costs so that quality of life, which was sought after in the first place when the suburbs began, is supported not by relentless growth but by limits on it.

Maybe then the small patch where forsythia and pussy willows grew off College Road will bloom again.

The writer, a retired newspaperman, also posts online at thecolumnrule.com and columnrule.blogspot.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Carol Dyer April 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM
It is so nice to read Art Gunther again. His sense of history here in Rockland is always so informative and his common sense is so refreshing. Forsythias also happen to be one of my personal favorites in the spring.
Felicia April 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Having lived in New City since the early 70's I couldn't agree more with Mr. Gunther. This area has gotten too crowded resulting in RT 59 becoming a major 3-4 lane highway and now the widening of New Hempstead road at the expense of beautiful trees that can not be replaced in our lifetime and the front yards of many homes. It's the same story on Main Street in New City. Many beautiful old trees have been cut down leaving a barren road in the name of progress. Where will parade watchers stand to get out of the sun this year?
Felicia April 25, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Might I also mention how Rockland Lake has moved from a beautiful nature park - with an emphasis on the local wildlife - to just another park that's all about humans. For the past few years they have employed a woman with a few dogs to chase the wildlife from the lake.
Rose Marie Raccioppi April 25, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Yes, Spring is the embrace of bloom and life anew... let us in heart capture the golden light of forsythia and the playfulness of pussy willows ... such be these reminders of grace..

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »