By D. CAMERON LAWRENCE
As my husband and I drove back from New England last week, we pulled off the highway for refreshment. Ice cold coffee, to be exact. In Louisville, like all good locavores, we support local businesses as much as possible. But on the road, it’s tough. And there’s nothing like cold coffee when highway hypnosis sets in on a summer drive.
The Starbucks sat among a dozen stores at the top of a hill that fell into a broad flat area. The name of the shopping complex was Merritt Creek Farm. Merritt Creek Farm. The crops grown there were Home Depot, Target, one of the big office supply stores and a lot of asphalt. A tremendous amount of asphalt. A parking lot big enough for hundreds of cars.
Merritt Creek Farm is one example of an increasing trend to disconnect words from what they symbolize in our language. The word “farm” used to mean that living things grew and were shepherded on that land. This accurate use of words gives our world cohesion and direction. We can count on stuff. “It’s just past the old Merritt Creek Farm,” someone might say, and you know what to look for. You know what farms are, and you know when you see one and when you don’t.
Near as I could tell, there was no farm at “Merritt Creek Farm.” I guess an old farm was destroyed for the shopping complex and they named it after what used to be. But stores and tar had replaced green fields. So why not name it what it is instead of what it’s not? Merritt Creek Mall, say, or Merritt Creek Used-to-Be-a Farm. Merritt Creek Parking Lot might work. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to look for a stand of corn, or a cow, or a field of wheat, I sure don’t look for a parking lot.
But then again, I’m not a mega-company trying to make money while quieting a populace worried that vandals and bandits are taking the best of what the earth offers: a clean home that will sustain us without corporate involvement.
Next visit to see my mother in Connecticut? We’ll pack a cooler with ice and a jar of coffee brewed at home.