Why we don’t garden along our roadfront

Drunk drivers abuse road front — again

Twenty-one years ago when Wonder Spouse and I moved out here, we lived on a country road. Local traffic consisted of commuters, tractors, and the occasional dump truck. About ten years ago, the county put a water line down the road; suburban sprawl followed fast. Several new schools nearby attracted many little ticky-tacky new subdivisions, most of which are less than half-occupied, thanks to the real estate crash. Still, traffic is constant now, every hour of every day.

We expected this to happen, which is why we were attracted to our house. It sits back about 100 yards from the road; a line of mature pines with an overgrown understory mix of trees and shrubs creates a protective vegetative wall that is almost impenetrable during the growing season, and pretty serviceable as a winter privacy screen too.

Early on, we thought briefly about landscaping the front of the tree line where it faces the road, but the trash soon led us to change our minds. We routinely pick up fast food debris, random papers, trash that falls off trucks on the way to the dump, and on weekends, alcohol containers abound.  The road is straight in front of our house — a favorite spot for teenage drag racing, but we’ve seen some serious car-tree collisions on the curvier portions of our road.

This morning when Wonder Spouse went to retrieve the paper, he found the paper box separated from its supportive stake, the two pieces deposited 25 or so feet from where they had been standing the day before. From the tracks, we figure a speeding car charged into the paper box, bounced into the air as it hit a ditch, then landed hard and kept going another twenty or so feet until a pine tree finally halted its forward momentum. You can see some of the gouging tire tracks in the above photo.

The car, which Wonder Spouse surmises was likely an older model Oldsmobile, left parts of itself on top of the gouges of earth and around the wounded tree trunks. Three hubcaps, in various states of wholeness, were strewn all over, along with broken bits of grill, headlights, and what Wonder Spouse identified as a piece of fan belt. Frankly, we’re amazed that the car was able to drive away under its own power — and that we weren’t awakened by what must have been quite a crash. The remains included:

Mangled paper box stake

Damaged pine with Oldsmobile debris

Partial hubcap in the ditch

Whole hubcap deeper in the brush

Same hubcap with fresh beer label in foreground

Close-up of the beer label

Third hubcap with missing center logo. The beer bottle in the foreground had beer still inside.

We found the center logo piece a few feet from the hubcap. We also found a couple of personal items that the driver/car occupants must have dropped as they staggered around the car in their drunken stupors:

They’ll need a new cell phone car charger.

And a new headset.

And, finally, here’s the small pile of damaged trees/shrubs that Wonder Spouse pulled out because the plants were too damaged to recover:

Vegetative casualties

Knowing how little the drivers speeding past my home care about my property, I remain disinclined to enhance their view of it. Having seen the litter tossed on the yards of my neighbors who have beautified their road fronts, I just don’t see the return on labor investment. And it would break my heart to see innocent plant specimens cut down in the night by beer-guzzling idiots.

As Wonder Spouse so elegantly put it while we were cleaning up the mess, “At least we didn’t find any bodies.”

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