Paving Paradise, Inc

Newly cleared land. I-4 west bound traffic is in the background.

Today on the way home from a local Walmart, I made the decision to go west on Turkey Lake rather than try to take my chances going east-bound. My wife and I were grocery shopping there when it started to rain heavily. Heavy rain in Florida is the kind that pounds the roof so hard it will drown out nearly any other surrounding sounds. It was that kind of rain, lasting for several minutes before tapering off to a more normal downpour. It was enough to really snarl traffic in the Walmart parking lot and Turkey Lake.

Turning west, Turkey Lake becomes Palm Parkway. I turn right onto Lake Street, then right again onto Apopka Vineland Road which leads me back to where I live. It was on the Palm Parkway section that I found new construction taking place, where a section of once-wooded land had just been cleared. From what I could see it is wide enough for a road. It was cleared all the way to I-4, which makes me wonder if a new interchange will be built here.


There were four pieces of equipment on the site, three bulldozers and an industrial tub grinder. The 'dozers were intimidating enough, with their blades designed to dig up all the vegetation including the pines and young oaks that grow in that area. Yes, that area is forested and only very lightly developed, but it looks like it won't last that way for long.

The Industrial Tub Grinder, a.k.a. the "Leveler Jr."

The one machine that caught my eye was the bit red industrial tub grinder. It reminded me of the Leveler in the movie "FernGully: The Last Rainforest." That movie, released 20 years ago in 1992, had a strong environmental theme. The girls saw it when they were six and four, and have talked about it ever since, even today. Batty Koda is still a fun character they remember fondly.

This particular machine was sitting next to a huge mount of ground-up vegetation, composed primarily of pine and oak. You could still smell the shredded wood where the aromatic elements were evaporating after the heavy rain. It was a beatific scent over a horrific scene of indifferent destruction.


And there it sat, a small version of the Leveler, complete with grasping claw for grabbing knocked down trees and dropping it all into the grinder before spitting it out onto the pile in front of it. All that was missing was Nexxus.


I could have spent the day taking in one of several fun activities downtown. I could have filled today's entry with photos of beautiful people occupied with their beautiful activities. Instead I came back here after the rains finished to photograph this during the golden hour. I have been looking for a special photographic project for this year, and I think I found it. Most of the land up and down Palm Parkway is still scrub forest, interspersed with fragments of former orange groves. Starting tomorrow (Palm Sunday) I'm going to start documenting that entire section of road, then keep documenting it as the inevitable development comes in. There's a lot of development cropping up around Orlando. Some of it is re-development, like the Dr. Phillips Arts Center downtown, or the extensions around the 408/417 juncture. But some of it, like this little area, and where the 408 is beginning to extend beyond its current east-side ending, are into new currently forested area.

I've been a Floridian since 1985. I've watched a lot change but didn't really care all that much. But since the early 2000s I've become a lot more aware of what's happening around me, and it saddens me. I sincerely doubt I'll change anything. What I'm doing now is documenting for the future, if we have one. I want to bear witness with my photography to the changes occurring around me. None of the trivial issues (mega-pixels, high-ISO, etc) mean much to me any more. All that matters is did I get the shot? So I'll be working on my photographic Ts an Cs (technique, timing, composition, and content) and use all the gear I've built up over the last three years.


Taken with the Olympus E-1 with ZD 1:2/50mm and the E-P2 with Lumix 1:1.7/20mm. Post processed in Lightroom 4.


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