In the Grand Scheme of Things

Oct 12, 2013 | 3 comments

Oysterville from Above


Nothing helps to put our petty trials and travails into perspective so much as an aerial view of our daily surroundings.  People disappear right along with potholes and missing pickets on fences and weeds in the garden.  Seeing Oysterville from on high is almost scary, and I’m not referring to my acrophobia here.  The bird’s eye views that I’m talking about came on a CD from our down-the-road neighbor Frank Wolfe.

Whenever I see aerial photographs of the Peninsula and especially of Oysterville, I am immediately struck by two things: 1) we humans make hardly a dent and 2) whatever small difference we do make could be gone in a heartbeat.  I find those thoughts both alarming and comforting.

In Oysterville we do a lot of worrying and stewing about the changes in our National Historic District.  We become distraught about historic homes that are being neglected.  We are concerned that new construction be in keeping with the historic character of the village.  Some folks even worry that the new gardens going in here and there don’t look “old fashioned” enough.

Our Neighborhood

Our Neighborhood

But, when I look at Frank’s photographs, I am immediately overwhelmed by thoughts of “fragile.”  It’s a term that is often applied to the Peninsula as a whole – “this fragile sandspit on which we live,” for instance.  In the photos, though, the sandspit looks relatively substantial; it is the tiny little buildings separated from the bay by a strip of low-lying meadows that look fragile. Those are the very buildings that we are constantly patching and repairing to protect from the ravages of our climate, never mind our concerns about tsunamis.

Not far away, out of camera range, are the trailers and mobile homes that our National Historic District Guidelines say have no place within our little eighty acres – some of them rusting and moldering from age and benign neglect.  Those are the man-made additions to our “fragile sandspit” that I console myself about when I see them from my five-foot-two vantage point:  a hundred years from now Mother Nature will have reclaimed them.

Today, weather permitting, my plan was to work in the garden.  But those flower beds I was planning to clean up don’t even show in Frank’s photographs… I seem to be looking at things with a whole new perspective.  Uh oh.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Such views do make us insignifigant, but our treatment of this big blue marble do make a difference. That said, if you find today to be a better day to read or write the marble will keep spinning!

  2. Cate Gable

    Sydney: lovely essay. Thank you!

  3. Greg

    None of the gardens in O’ville are modern. Clearly anyone differing needs to take a basic course in the history of landscape design. Or pick up a book. Or I give up.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *