Living on the banks of a river has its advantages, even in today’s world. Even though my community is a part of a large urban state capital, no gas or sewer lines run through the 47 properties that comprise Mount Air. The challenges created by the shale river banks and a state designated scenic route have allowed a pocket of anachronism to exist for several decades.
As most other urban neighborhoods passed levies to have sewage and gas lines installed, Mount Air didn’t have these options. Most people won’t purchase their dream home in this area because of the perceived inconvenience of a septic system, a community well, and scheduling fuel oil deliveries.
The limitations of our utility systems brings neigbors together in ways I never imagined before living here. An annual public hearing provides a forum for our water supply decisions as well as discussion about the resident eagle family that built a new nest a mile up the river from where it was last year. Having a common interest in the water we drink creates a bond among Mount Air residents that lacks in other communities.
Water “taste testing competions are are common occurrences between neighbors, leading to discussions about filtration systems and reverse osmosis. Sharing in the labor of log cutting for wood burners makes for a communal sense of accomplishment. Neighbors have reasons to talk more often because they have more in common with each other. Out of this comes a mutual respect for one another and for the land we share.
The white settlers that moved into this area in the early 1800’s mistakenly attributed the native american name “Olentangy” to the river, meaning “River of Red Paint”, a name for a different river due west. If the river could talk, I think it would share its frustration in being called another river’s name for almost 200 years. It might ask us to listen more carefully before we do anything rash like that again. My hope for my community, and the communities around us, is that we do.