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September 21, 2003

Dissonance

I went for my increasingly favorite bike ride yesterday, a loop from home out to 65th via Frobase Road, and back via Norwood. I've gotten so I can do the route in 33 minutes, which is not bad considering that my bike isn't really a road bike.

I was enjoying the fresh air and scenery, and cresting the final hill on Frobase before it intersects 65th, when I saw an old guy driving a tractor from his house out to a field. Feeling friendly and pumped up from my ride, I gave him a hearty wave. He slowed down, leaned out of his seat, and yelled "why don't you stay home?"

Well, I was non-plussed, to say the least. This was a dash of cold water on my happy little trip. Still, I was back in the mood within a couple of minutes, and completed my ride home without incident.

On reflection, I can only guess that he has seen the land around him claimed by McMansions (the stretch of 65th between Tualatin and Wilsonville has several large houses with what I call 'tax farms' on them -- the owners growing a small crop to satisfy zoning regs while allowing them to have a house with a lot of land around it), probably seen his own property taxes escalate, and is bitter.

It reminds me of a farmer with a dwindling plot of land in the middle of Lake Grove (offshoot of Lake Oswego). Jean and I would talk to him occasionally when we lived in the apartments there, and he was unabashedly bitter. He felt the encroaching city which was eating away at his farm was a (capital C) Communist plot, that the local government had been taken over by Reds, and generally ranted until we extricated ourselves.

I'm sympathetic, really. I don't like disruptive change in my own life, and these guys are the epitome of gradual change. Granted that the smart farmer is always evaluating new crop techniques, being a good steward of the land, and more than I have any insight into. But most of these small farm owners are members of farming families. I don't think too many folk today decide to buy a farm and start a business. So if you grew up on a farm, planned to do farming for a living, and got gobbled up by urban sprawl, well, bitter doesn't describe it by half.

My own profession is being encroached on by globalization. I hope firstly that I can continue to educate myself in a way that will keep my skills in demand as many software jobs shift overseas. I hope secondly that if I need to jump to some other job to meet the shifting demands of life, that I can do it without nursing a bitter regret.

Posted by dpwakefield at September 21, 2003 10:42 AM