The Calhoun forest is ever closing-in,
creating a canopy over the highways
By Bob Weaver
Residents of Calhoun do not realize they live in a giant, green forest.
Their perception is likely based on, "You can't see the forest for the trees."
Traveling on Calhoun's 500 plus miles of roads, mostly secondary, about all you will see is woods, or looking down from the air, you'll see the huge green forest, with scattered lines and dots of human development.
"Rainy night in the city, I was thinking of a place
I used to know, then pieces of me started to fly,
back to the green-green hills of home. - Steve Lewty
The county is among the most forested in West Virginia, about 90%.
About 100 years ago, much of Calhoun's 280 square miles of hills were cleared for grazing and farming, but when the agricultural era ended after World War II, the forest began to expand.
People reminisce about those times, when they say the land was put to more productive use.
In recent years the denseness has expanded, closing tight against our human existence, with most rural roads covered by a canopy of intertwined trees and vines.
Keep close to Nature's heart ... and break clear away,
once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week
in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. - John Muir
Should we complain that the woods and forests have been not been cut for development, like most parts of America?
Or rejoice in our connectedness to creation?
Mountain life is rooted in the pinnacles of nature, while many dream of life beyond the backwoods and the comfort and success it might bring in the bright lights of human development. Most have left to find out and to make a better living.
For years, virtually all the graduates of Calhoun High School have gone to the bigger world to seek their fortune.
"I don't think we quite knew what it was we had
back in the green hills of home." - Steve Lewty
Historian Norma Knotts Shaffer says those who have left fall in three categories, those that leave and never look back, those that leave and dream about coming back, and those that do return at sometime in their life.
Some are still people of place, their small place, connected, aware, and comforted by Creation, remembering the families who clung deeply and worked hard, mostly gracious souls who ventured seldom and had little.
A few have been able to find wonderment and beauty in the smallest of things, pulling themselves away from 21st Century technology.
"It was wonderful to see green again," said Grantsville
resident Spec 4 Travis Duelley in 2004, flying back
to Calhoun from a tour of duty in the deserts of Iraq
Some scientists have predicted that unless significant measures are taken on a worldwide basis, by 2030 there will only be ten percent of forests remaining.
It is not likely that citizens of the world, some who just struggle to survive and the others driven by conspicuous consumption, will become environmentalists and conservators of creation.
"Oh, the West Virginia hills! How unchang'd they seem to stand,
With their summits pointed skyward To the Great Almighty's Land!
Many changes I can see, Which my heart with sadness fills; But no
changes can be noticed In those West Virginia hills." - Ellen King
"Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something
about the sun which you could never get from reading books
on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are 'patches
of Godlight' in the woods of our experience." - C.S. Lewis