Friday, March 04, 2005

Darkness and silence

Two things that brought me to this island: darkness and silence. Darkness for the stars. Silence for writing.

I've written here before about how we are losing the darkness to light pollution, the worst offender being the new upscale Four Seasons Resort which lights up our northern horizon. Also, the prosperity the resort has brought to the island means that homes that used to snooze dreamily under the Milky Way are now lit up at night -- all night! -- like Christmas trees. And the Queen's Highway that runs the length of the island is lit with street lamps that hide the stars in a sickly orange glow.

And sound. Private jets now take off all day from our airport with guests from the resort. Many of these big planes, I'm told, carry just a few people. And now that the Queen's Highway is nicely paved, the cowboys who drive the trucks between the government dock in George Town and the Four Seasons Resort can't resist hurtling along the straightaways with a macho roar.

The creak of a wagon on a distant highway was sometimes noise enough to disturb Thoreau's reverie. There is apparently no place on Earth remote enough to escape the din of infernal combustion. At least here on the island we are spared the abominations of snowmobiles and leafblowers.

One can't stop "progress," of course, nor is it for me, a grateful guest in this lovely place, to impede development that is mostly welcomed by the locals. However, with sensible planning restrictions and proper law enforcement most of the light and noise pollution is preventable.