Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Moon is a Balloon

 Driving through Round Top around nine-thirty the other evening, I was struck by the sense of relaxed holiday ease. It was the first Saturday of the Antique Show and town was crowded. Yes, the weather that day had been fabulous. After all, it doesn’t take an Antiques extravaganza to bring people to our area on a beautiful day.

As night fell, many cars lined the streets. But the cars were still and quiet. Only a few couples strolled around, murmuring. I could hear light cocktail laughter from the tent outside Prost.

I recognized the feeling it evoked. We’ve all felt it—the peaceful pleasure of day’s end following hours of happy activity. I could feel it from inside my car as I paused at a stop sign. Been a long time since I felt that ease, that peace.

Did I mention the moon?

It was the night of the giant orange moon, slowly rising over Henkel Square. Such a moon exalts us. We can’t help it. The golden light sheds grace upon us. Maybe that accounts for the relaxed good nature of this particular evening.

I had attended the PaperCity kickoff party earlier with a friend. I think we were the only ones not wearing Santa Fe Style, or fancy western garb. My tunic had, in fact, been bought in Santa Fe, but there weren’t boots on my feet to proclaim it.

A genial kind of hype prevailed, with many photos taken and jovial conversation among local luminaries enjoying the perfect air and sloping late afternoon sun. Everyone seemed relaxed in the knowledge that they were in costume, and wasn’t it fun to be mingling and laughing in person, again?

Well, it was. Friends, music, food—out of doors so lingering fears of virus transmission could be allowed to drift away. No wonder everyone was in such a good mood.

This night also struck a kind of balance. We all know the virtues of Antiques Showtime. The health of the area’s economy depends on tourism.

City folk have populated the rolling countryside around us for almost seventy years. We know what they’re looking for. Escape. Peace. Charm.

Lately, though, developers from other cities are in hot pursuit. They have plans for us. Condos in pastures, tourist accommodations in a density never before seen around here. Tourists in cars that will spill out onto Highway 237, a road that, with caravans of heavy equipment hurtling past every day, scarcely needs more such spillage.

It’s not why the rest of us live here, is it? More traffic? More junked up roadways? And a Christmas Market to deliver the chaos of the Antique Shows year-round? Why doesn’t someone suggest a Buc-ees on the Square?

That just doesn’t fit, does it?

Round Top is molting, as it has done for decades. Slips out of the skin it has outgrown, tries out the new one, slips out of it after a few years, and so on. A continual, gradual process in which the nature of the place has, somewhat miraculously, retained its fundamental self—appealing, charming. Beloved.

Round Top has always known its brand and how to stop short of ruining things.

Do the powers that operate out of LaGrange understand that?

The hype that has attracted California developers and boosted local real estate prices is founded on aspects of our community that will be damaged, perhaps fatally, by the advent of developments such as the one suggested for 237 and W. Fuchs Rd.

If nothing else bothers you, think of the wells in the area that sucked sand during the last drought.

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