March 30, 2017

Today was a sad day in the Manorville Hills.  A large glacial erratic, one of the best in the entire park, was vandalized. Blue spray paint on two sides. This beautiful, gray boulder, is an oasis, a welcome break from thousands of trees, brown straight forms until one comes upon an “elephant back”. It looks as if a live elephant was buried here. I am shocked because this is the first time I’ve seen this kind of thing. Earlier, it was ATV’s. Now this. I thought the hills were going to stay perfect. I can’t walk this way any more. Or else I have to fix this.

“It looks like a witches sign.” Said Mark. “Look at that star in a circle. That’s the sign they use.” Coming upon this was very disheartening for me. It will take hours of work to clean these lines off. “They make paint spray removal.” Said Mark.

Finding a deflated mylar balloon, metallic blue, stuck in the shrubbery I grabbed it. Exotic colors are totally out of place here in this pine barrens forest.picking this up to dispose of didn’t relieve the dull pain I’m  feeling. I came here to escape graffiti and now, here it is, in the middle of hundreds and hundreds of acres of knobs and kettles, valleys, and trails. The boulder was a surprise when I first discovered it. It was a highlight. Not any more. I feel like I’ve been robbed.

I thought of a response. Fence the entire park; post a guard at the rock 24/7; use guard dogs; drones; motion sensors; hidden cameras; patrols; bring people who have to do community service to this rock to clean it;

There are other boulders here and there. Will they suffer the same? These boulders stimulate my imagination as to the power of the ice. I’ve studied them, finding cracks with blueberry bushes growing out of them, moss, lichens, major cracks fro lightning strikes.

Vandals have little to fear because there is practically no chance that they’ll be caught. This is a wakeup call that no matter where I go, there will be signs of uncaring people. Where to go next? Perhaps the best thing to do is to eliminate the trail that leads to the boulder.

As a naturalist, I expect to come across environmental destruction. Even a Styrofoam cup is destruction. It reminds me that these people have no strong connection to the outdoors. Thank god I have many friends who feel the same way I do. Hanging out with them is as close as I can come to remove the thought of that painted boulder up in the hills. I’d love to call them together so we could clean the rock, deepen our friendships, and strengthen the strong bond we already have.

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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