THE LAND THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
About one hundred years ago, a Welsh song writer by the name of Ivor Novello composed an unforgettable ballad and called it “The Land That Might Have Been”. The first stanza begins with these poignant words:
“Somewhere there’s another land different from this world below, far more mercifully planned than the cruel place we know.”
The old ballad was sung by Jeremy Northam in the movie “Gosford Park”, and whenever I listen to it I think of Kinniconick, a land that was beautifully planned and more merciful than most places on earth.
“Sometimes on the rarest nights comes the vision calm and clear, gleaming with unearthly lights on our path of doubt and fear.”
If “the better angels of our nature” had prevailed back in the 1960s, the stream would have been declared “Wild and Scenic”. No other river or stream in Kentucky was more eligible: in Chapter One of this blog I described the unique character of Kinney, and how little it had changed from the days of my youth, the same old farms, the timbered hills, the clarity of the water, the last redoubt of native muskellunge.
When I said my last goodbye in 1977, things were much the same. But the intervening years have not been kind to Kinney. The old farms have mostly disappeared or have been broken up. Many new homes have been built on the hillsides, many septic tanks have been installed. Hogs have been raised near the creek and a lot of polluted run-off has entered the stream. Commercial logging has taken a terrible toll on many of the beautiful mountains that frame the valley. Creek banks have been eroded by careless dredging, and floods have become more destructive because of bull-dozing for new development.
The “Wild and Scenic Rivers Act” would have restricted the exploitation and prevented most of the damage. Once again, the interests of many have been surrendered to the few and human greed has diminished a natural treasure.
Today, there are much more serious issues, not just about the Kinniconick valley and the State of Kentucky but for our country and for our planet. We must save the land, the air and the water, fight against special interests that deny global warming, and preserve wild and scenic places for our children and grandchildren.
“Days may pass and years may pass and seas may lie between. Shall we ever find that lovely land of might-have-been?”
Listen to the old ballad as it was sung by Jeremy Northam in the movie “Gosford Park”.