JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEE IT …

A few years ago when I looked a bit less decrepit than I do these days, I was in the post office. Minding my own business. Waiting in line to mail a package. When out of nowhere swoops in one of our grander dames of the valley. Those were the years when they were building McMansions and asking insanely high prices in hopes that we’d get some of the wealthy carriage-set professionals to move to our neighborhood.

You couldn’t miss them: these were people who went to the grocery store in high heels and makeup. They were clearly a new invasive species. This one was after me.

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“Is that your car in the handicapped space?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t look handicapped.”

My jaw flapped open. “I don’t suppose you noticed the handicapped placard hanging from the mirror?”

“No, I was looking for a licence plate.”

“Well, surprise, lady. Most people don’t get the licence plate so they can take their pass with them into any car in which they are riding. And who the hell are you to judge me? You got x-ray vision?” I sputtered to a conclusion and she sputtered out. Apparently her “business” at the post office could wait.

We’ve had another memorable incident during which we (really, my son … I was supervising) were moving rocks from an old stone wall deep in the woods where it probably marked the edge of a field, maybe a hundred years ago. We were building a rock garden. A newly arrived “local” pulled up into our driveway and proceeded to berate my son for moving historical rocks.

“They aren’t historical,” he said. “They are just big rocks. And they are OUR big rocks. Because this is our land. I would ask you to please leave since you are trespassing. On our property.”

“There are laws,” she cried, as she stormed off.

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No, there aren’t. There are no laws pertaining to the use of big rocks taken from your own woods and moved to a different part of your property. I’m not even sure there are any laws if you take rocks from along the road and put them ON your property.

People make a lot of assumptions based on what they think they see.

The see me on my feet, so I couldn’t be disabled. They don’t see a handicap, so it must not be there. And the obverse: my son is using rocks from an old stone fence … so he much be doing something illegal. Surely Massachusetts has a “Department of Historical Rocks” to protect them. Because, you know, rocks are an endangered species.

UNSEEN | THE DAILY POST

51 thoughts on “JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEE IT …

  1. In National and State parks it IS against the law to remove anything- be they rocks, dead limbs of trees, handicapped people. I once came home to find a pebble stuck in the tread of my tires. Wasn’t sure if it came from the park or the road on our way home but I feared a knock on the door for weeks.

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    • I tend to wince when I hear of rocks from ancient (or at least very old) walls, just because. Im a rock hugger, from way back. sigh.
      We have several miles of internal walls here, fencing in former pastures, fields, a cemetery. If anything, we try to keep them as they are. This is new england, wait a year and there’ll be a whole nother crop in the field.

      I think in the national parks they have so much trouble with the hunter-gatherer types taking anything that isn’t nailed down they have to stop it all. People who trod on the sign that says ‘do not walk on the tree roots”, people who march across the endangered mossy areas with a hand shovel concealed in their pockets…if they allowed anyone to take anything, there would be a run on rocks, bird’s nests, and tree bark, for sure.

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      • These are old walls that are no longer along fields, but in the middle of tall oak woods. The only way we knew they were there was in the spring, before the blackberries block every path, we walked as much of the property as we could. There were the walls, long abandoned because the trees are over 100 feet high — and oaks don’t grow so fast.

        There were once farms here, but it has been a long time since then. All we did was move them from one place and make a new rock wall using the same stones. Along the driveway, as a retaining wall. To grow some flowers. They are beautiful old rocks and no one would ever see them ion the middle of the woods. There aren’t even any paths in the woods, except one we made ourselves, and it only goes a couple of hundred feet until the ground is so rough, we couldn’t go further. I had wanted to put back some paths, figuring there had to have been some … and maybe there were, but we live on the downslope of shelf. It isn’t exactly friendly farming here — rocks and roots at best.

        There will never be fields there again. The fields went away when mills and factories arrived … and that was sometime between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. We’ve ALMOST cleaned up the pollution, but we lost much of the population when the mills closed in the early part of the 20th century. Most farms remaining are dairy and apples. There’s very little land suitable for growing anything except trees. Lots of orchards, but so much land, so cheap. A lot of farmers have sold and movied to places like Indiana where they can really FARM. Without the historical rocks.

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    • We are very gentle with our environment. I wish everyone were so careful. There are the people who shot Bonnie … I can only guess who they are, but THEY know who they are. And the other neighbors who decided to get rid of the weeds and sprayed something that had the robins all falling over dead on their eggs. Did they even read the label?

      Anyway, these are OUR rocks from OUR woods. They weren’t visible because the woods grew up around them. Now, they are a wall along our driveway that supports what we humorously call a garden. It’s built in the old style using the old stones. There are a lot MORE stones and we got offers to buy them, but we didn’t want to, so any rocks that we didn’t need are still deep in the woods. We picked our favorites, the ones with lichens have real ambience.

      Remember that these stones were not born as walls or fences. Before they became New England stone fences, they were just rocks in the way of a farmer trying to plow a field in the uncooperative hardscrabble of New England. Those fences were built because they had to clear fields and what else can you do with all those rocks? It ended up as art, but they weren’t built as art. They were a way of getting the rocks out of the way of the plow.

      The walls are not ancient and while lovely, not historic, either. They have been walls (or fences, if you prefer) for a couple of hundred years at most. Having lived in the middle east? That is NOT old. We used to call that “new.”

      Liked by 1 person

        • I know. I lived in jerusalem. You don’t just take stuff, even if it’s just lying around. People do it all the time, but you shouldn’t. Though sometimes, you find something where you least expect it. Like old coins, pieces of ancient pottery, and occasionally, something really valuable.

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  2. When we lived in NM, some person in our neighborhood berated my husband because our yard was “shabby”. Which is the way we like it, thanks much. She said we needed to “trim our trees” and whatnot to get it up to “standards”. Bah. Thing is, we didn’t live in an HOA, so we could have our yard as “shabby” as we wanted so long as it didn’t pose a health hazard. He didn’t tell her that because he’s too polite, but if I’da been out there, I would have said something. That’s fersure.

    I don’t have a handicap placard, but I keep thinking about getting one. I’m pretty sure that dealing with the assholes is the main reason I don’t. I have zero tolerance for assholes, and I can hobble a few extra yards most days. Eventually though, my needs may overcome my reluctance to deal with *shudder* people.

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    • I can’t walk very far and it won’t get better with time. Actually, it was my doctor who said I’d better get one because I would need it in years to come. It makes you very popular at Christmas if people want to shop because YOU can get the “good’ spaces. Except once you get INTO the mall, you still have a lot of walking to do. All the parking does is get you closer to the building. Garry and I are both grateful.

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  3. There are watchdogs everywhere! I worked for the State in the 80’s, and often drove a marked State car on business. If I was at one place all day, I would worry that somebody would complain about “that marked State car parked all day in the same space.” If I was away for several days, and went out to dinner, I’d worry about complaints about the use of a State car for personal business (there were monthly letters to the newspaper on that one, always answered politely that State workers workingaway from home have the right to go out for dinner!).

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  4. Out here in the desert our river rocks ARE an “endangered species” as people keep taking them to be placed in their yards, fast from any river. We have rivers that have no water in them for 99% of the time because water is only available after storms and run-off. One town out here damned up the river, called it a lake and started building lakeside properties on its shores. I dunno.., maybe it’s the rivers themselves that are an endangered species?

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    • I think it’s the water that’s your endangered species. You live in an arid zone. I was in Israel the aquifer died. It’s a tiny country, so the Sea of Galilee became the nation’s ONLY water source for a while, but it began to dry up too. Finally — 50 years after they were supposed to do it — they got desalinization up and running and now, there’s water. What do you do when you are not on the shore of a big water?

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      • Actually Water, as a necessary item, is pretty plentiful on the planet.., just not here. Of course the most abundant form is salt water, which needs extensive treatment to be useful to us. However, fish and sea mammals don’t seem to have a problem with it. It’s US!, we’re the endangered species because everything has to be just right for our survival.., yet we infectiously cover the earth like a virus. Go figure!

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  5. Wow, you really make good use of these daily quotes. This one reminded me of making a small rock waterfall for my mom during her last years to help her have a calming environment. The thing was I took the rocks from the grounds of the hospital where I was working. Federal property. Every time I bent over to pick up one of the smooth little rocks that I thought of as “theirs”, I felt wrong but I figured they wouldn’t miss a few and after all blah, blah, blah. Mom only used the waterfall a couple of times because she got tired of cleaning the bottom of the container and resetting the rocks. The waterfall dried out. I never got in trouble for taking those rocks but I resented her for not taking care of my present. My weirdness is unseen but it sure is present. I know a person cannot cut the flowers at that facility but not sure about taking the rocks, still. Thanks for your post and for providing me an opportunity to run on.

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    • Those are actually my own quotes or stuff people in my family used to say — when I had a family. Sometimes i attribute them to other people just to see if people will believe anything I say, but they are really pretty much my own words.

      I’m not a stripper of natural resources. It’s not only against my principles, I’m a minimalist and don’t believe in taking more than I really need. Sure, I’ll pick up a shell on the shore, but I won’t try to bag the whole beach.

      We moved our own stones from one wall and used them to build another. They weren’t a national monument. They are rocks. In the woods. On my property. I wasn’t jack-hammering them to use for road bed material. Just building a different wall in a different place, a few hundred feet from where the last person to use them to build a wall put them.

      They didn’t start out life as a wall. They began as ROCKS IN A FIELD. A farmer moved them and put them in a long pile, aka a wall. Now, they are in another pile, also called a wall.

      This is much ado about nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Many people do tend to think that if they can’t see a wheelchair or a cane you are not handicapped which is ridiculous as there are many things that might make it hard to walk far. David had a handicapped sign to hang in our car for the last couple of years. What we found was the most annoying problem was people using the few handicapped parking spots who were not entitled to them. Well maybe they were but not displaying the card but it does seem a widespread problem.
    I’m not sure what the rules are locally about picking up things like rocks but I think that as long as it is not a National Park it is OK. I was having this conversation with someone about taking shells from the beach just the other day. We concluded the same thing applied. I think the trouble is that some people are too greedy and take more than they need. I used to see people stripping all the little coastal plants from the sand dunes near where I used to live. I wouldn’t have minded them taking a few for their gardens but they left nothing. I thought that could not be good for the environment and the flowers were there for everyone to enjoy. I didn’t say anything because as far as I knew it wasn’t illegal only selfish. Quite different from you moving your own rocks on your own land though.

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    • As the population ages, there are more and more people who need handicapped spaces … and many places put handicapped spots in really inconvenient places. I think most of us are pretty good about putting up our placards. There are also a lot of people who ought to have handicapped plates or placards, but don’t know how to get them, so they sometimes use spaces that are designated handicapped. Around here, you’ll get one huge fine for parking in a handicapped spot without the credentials, so you don’t see it much. I’m glad we live in a small town. Parking is rarely a problem. Even if we can’t get a handicapped spot, it’s not that far from anyplace to anywhere else. Even for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Marilyn, I think I would have been too dumbstruck to respond to Mrs McMansion in the post office. Why in the hell people don’t mind their own business is beyond me. So happy you were able to get out the words to answer her. Give me a freakin’ break!

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  8. I think a lot of people see those great lovely parking spots near the entrances and think, hey, who notices…I’ve turned in more than one who was illegally parked. Some people also feel that since they use a cane they don’t need no stinkin’ card, or license plate. Wrong.

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    • I know. But a lot of people don’t seem to understand that it’s not that hard to get a handicapped pass … if you are actually handicapped. And a lot of people don’t get the difference between “tired,” “out of shape,” and actually handicapped. They seem to think if they don’t like walking, they shouldn’t have to. i agree. Just don’t park in the three handicapped spaces they leave because there are never enough of them for those who need them. I don’t use them if there are non-handicapped spaces close enough for me to walk.

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  9. “You don’t look handicapped”

    What on earth is handicapped supposed to look like anyway? That has to be the most ridiculous and insensitive question I’ve ever heard.

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  10. You moved some rocks around? Shocking. I expect the NSA has tasked a satellite to watch out for any more shenanigans on your property. “Pebblegate” they’ll call it.

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  11. I want that lady at the post office patrolling Mecca rather than hounding poor, innocent civilians at government offices. At Mecca, I can guarantee you that at any given time, at least half of the customers cruising the store in those little scooters you can sometimes find at the front door are in no way handicapped (physically, at least)… so she’d have plenty of people to berate and act all outraged over. We can’t play handicapped police at work, and we also can not deny entry to any animal if its owner claims it is a service animal…. so if you wanted to bring Bonnie and Gibbs along on your next shopping trip to check out our fine selection of stuffed critters, you could totally do that!

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    • If we brought Bonnie and Gibbs, the wild bunch, we’d have to pretend to be their service animals πŸ™‚

      I’m so careful about how I use my disabled parking pass that if I see that it’s “senior discount day” at Hannaford and there are a lot of others worse off than me, I just park in a normal space and limp to the store. I’m actually fine when I can lean on the shopping cart. A lot of people with spine problems wish there were shopping carts everywhere because they are better by far than any walkers. They are the perfect height to get the pressure off the lumbar area AND you can put all you stuff in it. Even your kids and pets and shopping bags. I LOVE shopping carts.

      I think I just seriously digressed, huh.

      The kind of overly-made-up-pointy-toed-high-heeled land shark I encountered in the post office wouldn’t be caught dead in Mecca. I’m sure she considered the post office below her station in life, but alas, what can such a great lady do when she must collect her mail? Poor thing, having to deal with the hoi-polloi.

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  12. The laws about not removing rocks (or anything else) from national parks, etc., does not apply to private property. If it’s your land, you can do whatever you want with “historical rocks” you find there. (I could ask my brother, an archaeologist, for the name of the relevant law, but he’s probably asleep…)

    I bet the same people who have a hissy cow over you repurposing rocks are all too happy to use “architectural salvage” from really old buildings to decorate their own homes.

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    • Yes, they do. And not just in this country. In EVERY country — to the point where graves and tels are robbed of tons of archaeological material every year by home decorators. There are always amateur archaeologist hoping for a piece of the past to save and display, but the real damage is done by people with a little money who want to live in a palace made from the bones of the past. And again, I would like to point out that these walls were not very old or of any historical interest, especially since they buried deep in an impenetrable woods. And when I say, impenetrable, I can say with fair certainty that just getting to the stones was an adventure, much less moving them. These are very BIG stones. Boulderish.

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