There was an old country song recorded in the 1960's by Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Charley Pride, and a whole host of other stars. It was a sad song in which the singer looked longingly toward that day when he would return to the "Green Green Grass of Home."
We can only hope that the guy who wrote that song wasn't thinking of coming home to Mesquite.
If so, he would have to re-title the song "Brown Brown Dirt of Home."
At the rate we're going, by the time he gets here there won't BE any green grass.
On Monday another landscaping crew was busy at the Mesa Blvd./Pioneer Blvd. intersection tearing out the grass. If you look at the rest of the property lining Pioneer Blvd., strips of dirt and gravel, you can pretty well guess what's going to appear at the new construction site by the end of the week.
Sadly, the stretch is simply joining the rest of the community in the de-greening of Mesquite.
When I first moved to Mesquite in 2004, one of the most eye-catching and breath-taking features of this hamlet in the middle of the Mohave desert was the amount of beautiful grass. I hate to use the term of a now-defunct local casino, but the city truly was an oasis of green in the midst of some of God's least-impressive handiwork. The medians on Pioneer Blvd. were green, as were the strips along the side of the road. (Mesquite Blvd. hadn't yet been wrecked and ruined by the annoying medians which now clutter the town's main drag. However, since our town's logo on I-15 is a giant Pac Man eating a mountain range, perhaps the maze-like quality of those medians is a natural tie-in.)
Then you had those magnificent golf courses covered in emerald green.
Once you turned into some of the neighborhoods, you discovered even more color of the Irish, with perfectly manicured lawns of verdant green.
For the last four years, there has been a strong brown movement in Mesquite. (And if that reminds you of a different kind of "movement" with a brown-colored result, you're not far off). Homeowners Associations, deciding that the color was incompatible with the natural environs of the underworld from which too many HOA board members are spawned, voted to rip out the green and replace it with stone and dirt (as if this part of Southern Nevada didn't already have enough of that). In addition to making their neighborhoods look more like Hell (or the bombed out parts of Afghanistan), it also saved them money on watering costs.
That's actually the primary motivator for most of the city's de-greening. Water rates have gone up (may a pox be upon the Virgin Valley Water District), and the economy has cratered.
Add to that, somehow a contingent of "eco-friendly" environmentalists have used the Jedi mind trick to convince people that the dirt, gravel, and scrub are "natural and beautiful." It's an appropriate explanation, since these zealots seem intent on making Mesquite look just like Tatooine.
After traveling through the heart of Nevada over the weekend on a trip to Reno, all I can say is that I'm thankful for the large multi-colored signs in front of the Eureka, CasaBlanca, and Virgin River. Without those colors, drivers flying by our city on the interstate might easily miss Mesquite and it's taupe houses, taupe lawns, taupe medians, and taupe surroundings, writing it off as just more of Nevada's hideously ugly landscape.
Sadly, unless Hollywood is in need of a barren set to film a movie about the surface of the moon, this is going to continue to hurt our local economy. Our insistence on looking more and more like Pahrump is going to result in fewer residents choosing Mesquite for their final retirement destinations. If people wanted to spend their last days surrounded by dirt, gravel, and scrub, they'd simply allow their cars to break down on just about any stretch of highway in the Silver State.
There is, however, an upside.
Since it appears the federal government is intent on banning people from Gold Butte, perhaps this is our way to make a few bucks.
"Want to see what Gold Butte looks like? Come to Mesquite, where you can see all the unsightly dirt, scrub, rocks, sand, grit, and complete lack of any living green growth any hiker would ever want to see."
Now if they could just figure out how to scrub the green off the money, Mesquite's brown movement would be complete.