What’s New on the Horizon

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I think that it is true that no matter what state—or for that matter country—you call home, the horizon has been changed to include that of wind turbines. As I recently drove down the highway en route to my grandparents’ home some 100 miles away, I couldn’t help but think of how far I have come in the debate.
In 2005, when I first noticed the turbines going up along this road, I found myself irritated by those “eyesores” disrupting my daydreams, and wondering why they couldn’t find somewhere less visible to place them. I hated having my scenic views disrupted by “progress.” I liked being able to look out the car window and envision the buffalo running wild, mustangs running free and Indians sitting up on the cliff line. I could see them there, in my mind’s eye, and be lost in the stories they told. But it was a little harder with those turbines standing there shouting, “Hey, there is something new on the horizon.”

I don’t mind change. Actually, I embrace change. I see myself as a forward-thinking woman, firmly rooted in the past. I can see the need for change, and I know that it is a necessary part of things. Yet I fought this one. Surely they could find a way to make this change without disrupting my view and distracting my fellow travelers from the beauty of the past.

Like most things, there is a science behind what’s being done, and I quickly learned that this was no different. Research had been done and wind and weather patterns documented. Land was acquired based on that information. During a meeting on the topic, I sat listening to both sides of the issue. I could see both sides, which is more exhausting for me than when I land firmly on one side of the topic.
So as I sat there struggling to understand, to find a side worthy of my support, the other side was presented and I again found myself all ears. On the side of the wind turbines: the prospect of being energy-free as a nation, the conversation of less impact to the environment, new jobs, and new technology being used. I was excited at the thought. On the side against: the disruption to bird and bat migration, the cost, the whirling noise for those in close range and the esthetics of our beloved horizons. These issues left me cold.
I was straddling the fence on such an important issue, my mind racing as the discussion began to heat up. Then my mind wandered back to the days cattlemen starting fencing cattle, and then to the railroad folks laying tracks. Each debate a valued one—progress to some, a loss of a way of life to others—with amazing people on both side of the issues. During this particular meeting I was glad that we had advanced over time and no one was called out to settle the issue with ten paces and pistols.
There are very passionate people on both sides of this very hot issue, including many that I love and care about. And while I wish I knew the perfect solution, I don’t. But here I was driving down the road while having a conversation with myself and admiring how far I had come in such a short time. I have come to terms with those 150-foot towers whirling in rhythm all along our horizon. They have somehow become part of the landscape, adding to its story…a new chapter to a book that has been written over time. For me, the Indians, buffalo and wild horses have returned, standing right next to the turbines. In some odd way they were able to find a way to co-exist.
It all begs the question: In the name of progress, what else is on the horizon?

Leave a comment 8 Comments

  1. Noeletta says:

    I have always like to watch wind turbines from the first time I saw them. It amazes me how people come up with such wonderful ideas and are able to make them come alive. I think they are beautiful when they are all turning in unison in the wind. They remind me of the little pin wheels I would hold while riding my bike down through the field headed to school so many years ago. My husband and I have often thought it would be an awesome idea to have one of our own to supplement our own electricity.

    Nicely written!
    Noeletta

  2. Gary says:

    Good Bloggie Rene’…
    I saw some in California, and when I was in College, we went to Boone, N.C. where they were testing one with a span equal to a 747 plane… it made a BIG "WOOOSH" when it swung ’round…
    You’re right, there are pros and cons, but I’d whole heck of a lot see them on the horizion than a clear-cut strip mined Mountain, or God forbid… yet another nuclear abomination.
    Yep… I’ll go with Wind.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    Gary
    in Tampa

  3. Nancy Landrum says:

    I was in Holland a few years ago and saw my first "wind farm". It was by the sea. I thought it was beautiful like some exotic field of flowers or an art installation. I was told that the people of the area were unhappy with it because it was ugly. I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder. However, in today,s world, ugly or not we should be thrilled to find new and better ways to harvest energy.
    Be good to yourself.

  4. Peg says:

    Here in Maine wind turbines are a hotly debated topic also. I cringe to think of them on our pretty hills and in our treelines but I feel as you do…on the fence. Turbines mean jobs , clean energy, cleaner world. It seems as though everytime the prospect of planting a few comes up there is a group of people up in arms against them doing it. Many of these people are retired folks who moved in from other places and paid for their view dearly. Even though I cannot blame them for complaining and fighting progress in their area I also have to wonder if they would be so against them if they were being planted in their old home state.
    We were in Aroostook county (The County it is so big)recently and there a few farms there that have put up one or two for personal use.In a way they were restful to watch and the skyline in The County is a lot like the skylines in parts of the West. Long and clean and goes on forever.
    We desperately need to become independent of foreign oil/energy so I guess I am going to bite the bullet on this one. Like everything else that has changed in Maine I will get used to seeing them I am sure. Hopefully they will add to our lovely state and not detract from its beauty.

    I am far more upset with the logging practices here than I am a wind turbine farm.

  5. GarykPatton says:

    Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more.

  6. Sherry says:

    You have all spoken so eloquently–about a topic so very important. Here in VT the governor is largely opposed as they disrupt the views. Yet he totally supports extending VT Yankee and not requiring the owner to put any more money into the decommissioning fund in spite of there being not nearly enough money in it. As it stands Entergy will be shutting down and leaving the state with a horrible mess to deal with. I would far and away rather see wind turbines than know I am polluting the environment into eternity, never mind into the next generation! Nuclear is NOT green and I am sick of the hype saying it is!

    I have loved gazing at wind turbines. There is something awesome about knowing they are entirely independent of foreign oil and are not leaving anything lethal in their wake.

    Thanks to all of the above people for some thoughtful reading.

  7. Barb says:

    My hubby & I have just come back from a great vacation to South Dakota and Minnesota. We stayed off the interstates and took back roads all the way from Colorado. Coming up over the hill to see windmills as far as the horizon almost took my breath away. they are so huge it’s kind of creepy, but awsome at the same time. Much better than all those gravel pits we drove by.

  8. Alyssa says:

    Unfortunately, people aren’t being told the whole truth about these monstrosities. In my home state of NY, they have a few but a lot of communities have banned them, mainly because there is such a downside to them. How much energy do they REALLY produce? It costs a fortune to get their energy on the grid, so until they establish a new one, I think the cost benefits are negligible. Also, they touted a lot of local, green jobs but in reality, the companies looking to set up in the state were all european, and had their own contractors,etc. the amount of jobs created, again, was negligible. Have you all thought of the destruction erecting these behemoths does to the land? It can never be re-claimed, not for generations, if these things become obsolete. who’s going to dismantle them and haul the away? Or will they someday fall into disuse and disrepair, rusting and broken on our mountain rides and hillsides? the trouble is, people have bought into the clean energy/green thing so much so that they don’t think things through, along with future consequences. all we are doing is making somebody else rich, namely these green energy companies,and their CEO’s. For instance, I will no longer buy those twisty, green lightbulbs and am now stocking up on the old-fashioned incandescent kind. Why? Because the new kinds are much more hazardous to people, animals, and the environment. They’re toxic! Did you know you cannot dispose of these things in the regular manner? you pratically have to call the hazmat team to get rid of them! I had a couple I wanted to dispose of, and I even brought them to our city’s "green" energy exploration center, and they wouldn’t take them, and told me I had to call a special truck to pick them up! Because they contain mercury, they said in case they broke, the area has to be cleared the fire dept. has to be called – ridiculous! Like ethanol, maybe we will soon find out there are unintented consequences to everything, even these Green energy "solutions".

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