The dawning of a new day a is a gift that unwraps gradually. A new year is upon us, spread out like an enormous blank canvas…one that deserves some deep reflection before we start painting.

For the first time, we took down our Christmas tree before January 1st. Winter here in the northeast has been slow to arrive, and the balmy outside temperatures have made it difficult to hang on to the ‘Winter Wonderland’ thing.

With the tinsel and Santa stuffed safely in the attic, our home suddenly became simple and uncomplicated…a perfect atmosphere for fine-tuning goals and aspirations for the new year.

I make big decisions slowly, and I don’t like surprises, (except puppies and kittens), unless I know about them beforehand. I have to try on change until I know in my gut, it makes sense for me.

But new years always involve change, invited or not.

Changes are happening in our town. Some would say time marches on. I wouldn’t.

Demolition signs are appearing with greater frequency. You’re driving down the road, and where a beautiful proud home stood yesterday, now there is the shock of nothing…an empty hole. This is followed by a year of frantic activity, watching something cold as a stone rise from the ashes.


Here is the original 1770’s home.

House 2 Gone

Then the demolition site, and now, below, an enormous house.


Below, a graceful and inviting entry that led to a beautiful home that disappeared overnight.


House Gone

Here’s what replaced it. Very new.


DSC_0174I’ve always admired this Greek Revival home from the 1840’s.  Charming and beautiful, and now with a Demolition sign at it’s front door.


When did we, as a town, maybe even a society, decide history and tradition are not as good as “new”? It’s even worse when the landmarks of who we were, and where we came from, disappear without a whisper.

You can build a house, but you can only make a home. The developments so powerfully depicted in Spielberg’s ET and Poltergeist, were sad evidence of this. Rows and rows of identical houses. No yards, no trees.

I never want to live in a place like that.

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4 Responses to New

  1. Connie Cowen says:

    Perry, huge thanks for speaking for great numbers of us so beautifully and so persuasively.
    Does anyone have thoughts about how we can best get this message to our town decision makers?

  2. marijamiko says:

    I totally agree with you. The demolition of perfectly beautiful homes (which are by the way, some of the nicest homes in the world) to bulldoze entire lots and build McMansions– is heartbreaking. The destruction of the woodlands and replacement with huge ugly lawns and non-native shrubs (the same at every house) particularly saddens me. The amount of waste involved is completely unacceptable when our planet is faced with the current environmental crisis. These homes could be upgraded and retrofitted in most cases. And even if they cannot, care could be taken to protect the landscape, particularly older trees. Don’t even get me started on the blasting of rocks with dynamite for months as if this had no effect on the surrounding geology.

  3. Deirdre says:

    Lovely, poetic metaphor of new year as blank canvas that “deserves deep reflection before we start painting.” So true!

  4. Peter Weeks says:

    A very moving and powerful statement, Perry. When depicted graphically with your photos, I feel such sadness and waste. The same town that has such stringent building regulations has no backbone to preserve historic structures like these. The line from a Joni Mitchell song still reverberates: “You don’t know what you’ve lost ’til it’s gone……”

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