Monday, May 4, 2015
Tugboat In The Trees
Tugboats like the water, it seems kinda elementary that most boats like water, not forests. But not on Long Island. It seems that, again, life on Long Island is a bit different, changed somehow by ripples in time that pull the rug out from under forward progress, returning the place back in time 50 years at a time. So it was in a place here, called Diamond Crystal. If that name sounds familiar, it probably rings a bell as the producer of table salt, the favorite seasoning of generations of Americans hell-bent on hypertension and water-retention. Well, that salt has to come from somewhere, and it most likely came from seawater ponds designed to evaporate in the sun, just like the huge, and I mean HUGE system of saltwater ponds developed here on Long Island over 60 years ago. These drying ponds are measured in square miles, and compromise a huge portion of the island. A network of canals feed these drying ponds, and it is all man-made, completed in a day and age before the advent of hyper sensitivity to Naturalism and Preservation. Before these ponds were dug out of the muddy mangrove forest, the shallow water was so hot and muddy, that little if anything could survive here. After the completion of these feeder canals, and shallow evaporative ponds, fish and birds were everywhere, and the many square miles of ponds supported a variety of fish and birds. As it turns out, our friend Kathy spent a good portion of her youth right here, at Diamond Crystal, a childhood dream for many of us, in a tropical wonderland of crystal clear water and pristine ocean waters teeming with fish. What I would have given to live here then, but the blessing of childhood is such that the young mind is not allowed to know it's pitiful plight, and therefore never realizes until adulthood how bad things really were at times, or or good for that matter either. We took a road trip to the more southern areas here in Long Island, and visited the expanse that was Diamond Crystal, and now is an abandoned wasteland. It seems that the government here kept demanding more and more of the profits from Diamond Crystal, and finally, at some point, it became too much. One too many ultimatum, one too many demand for more money to feed a government that spent the money on who-knows-what. Diamond Crystal finally said no, and closed down the entire operation, crippling the entire half of the islands economy and the livelihood of hundreds of families in the process. What they could take with them when they left, was loaded on barges meant to haul the massive amount of salt they produced, and was shipped away. The remainder, was left to rot, rusting away in a sad, slow decline, marking yet again, another slip backward for this beautiful island.