Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things we lost in the expansion: remembering the orchards

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a big fan of civilization. I love traveling and exploring cities the same way that some people love hiking and camping. My favorite way to view nature: from a loft apartment overlooking Central Park. Nevertheless, with all of the construction going on in my small city of Orem, Utah, I am feeling nostalgic for the things that disappear to make way for city growth. And in Orem, new construction often means the death of an orchard or two.

My city was once blanketed in orchards. Many were destroyed before I lived here, and many have been uprooted to make way for more lucrative land use since I arrived ten years ago. I'm not going to burst out into the Joni Mitchell "paved paradise and put up a parking lot" song, but I will miss the fruit stands when they're gone. These photos-within-photos are my way of remembering a piece of our local history. Instead of making the past black-and-white, I decided to leave it in color to better express the beauty of what has disappeared. For the image representing the present, I chose a muddy warm gray.

Dream homes and McMansions have eclipsed the orchards near my home, the only reminder being the black widows that once fed on the fallen fruit.

My oldest son attended Orchard Elementary. A small remnant of an orchard and a few confused farm animals stand behind a chain-link fence that borders the playground, like a living diorama of life in Orem a couple decades ago.

Why do we name constructions after the things they replace? "The Orchards" strip mall has a gas station, a supermarket, a spray-on tan store, a dry-cleaner, a cheap hair salon, and a Mexican restaurant. The large sign reminds me of a tombstone in memory of the trees that have been uprooted.

It's not too late to do your own photo within a photo for the August Monthly Special. Even if you decide not to do one, check out what others have done.