The Spring Cacophony of Moab
The infestation of the cockroaches with four wheels
There once was a town in the heart of the southwest desert where all life seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of green valleys dotted with fragrant Sagebrush and Pinon Pine where, in spring, white clouds drifted high above red sandstone cliffs and canyons. In autumn, the cottonwoods blazed with yellow color that flickered across a backdrop of Juniper. Skunks, badgers, pronghorn antelope, and deer would silently tread the landscape.
Along the roads, the otherworldly landscape delighted traveler’s eyes with wonder. Birds feasted on Pinon Pine nuts and Great Blue Herons skimmed over the Colorado River for a feast of bugs. Others came for world class recreation opportunities. Moab has something for everybody.
Then a strange blight crept over the area over the past several years and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled and divided the community. Noise pollution. Everywhere was a distinct sound of exhausts rumbling throughout the area.
There was a strange roar in the air, constantly. The Spring infestation of the cockroaches with four wheels had arrived, once again. It seemed as if numbers of these industrial recreation machines increased every year. Rumbling echoes from the exhaust pipes of UTV/OHVs had permeated the air and reverberated off the canyon walls.
Some desire having fresh desert air flood their home by leaving a window open, but instead they have close up their windows and doors tight to stop the noise from penetrating their daily life. The community has an air of tension floating around and many have issues with the noise pollution affecting their mental health. Their jaw is tense, they grind their teeth at night, and their blood pressure has risen due to the intrusion of a once quiet, peaceful community. They can’t concentrate. Their peace of mind has been stolen by the cockroaches with wheels.
The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with brown and trampled vegetation, and covered with Russian Thistle and Cheat Grass, just waiting for a wildfire. We no longer see native grasses like Blue Grama Grass or Indian Rice Grass, but instead we see Budweiser cans and vape-pen cartridges mixed in with toilet paper roses. The earth roads are increasing in numbers and size. The dust and erosion that occurs during the Spring winds stings your eyes and chokes your breath.
Many visitors note how “quiet” the desert is when out in the open. It is so quiet, it literally hurts your ears. Will this quiet for the mind and soul ever return to the small community of Moab? The people have done it themselves.
This was inspired by Rachel Caron’s chapter, “A Fable for Tomorrow”.
*Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.