There’s a big hill behind our property, a former blueberry field. For the first several years we lived in our present house, we would see workers up there in the late summer picking on sunny days, except for the years the field was burned to destroy pests. More recently, the land has not been cultivated, the bushes untended, but still prolific.

Right after we moved in, when we didn’t know better, we would sometimes walk right up the hill through the blueberry bushes, sometimes picking a few as we went. The dogs came with us. Later we learned that even though the bushes seemed quite hardy, we shouldn’t walk through the field like that, and we found another way to get to the top of the hill.

The view, from one of the highest spots in town, was glorious, taking in the Camden Hills to the east and on clear days extending as far as New Hampshire to the west.

In winter, we have snowshoed up there and year-round it is among the very few places we can take our dog who doesn’t play well with others so she can run. Even dogs who have social anxiety need to run.

It is a sight to behold, that view, a balm to the soul. One we have lately had reason to fear we might not be able to enjoy indefinitely.

We learned from neighbors that part of that land is up for sale and it might be closed to the public and developed. In addition to a number of practical concerns that possibility raises for us, there is the inestimable loss of a beautiful area that has been used and enjoyed by many in the town for decades.

This column is not about the arguments for or against development. What I want to say, what I hope you will think about, is the cost of considering only the monetary value of a thing. No doubt this hillside could fetch more for its owner if it’s sold for development than if it is bought by residents who want to preserve it and maybe try to return it to blueberry cultivation.

But what is the value of standing on a hilltop overlooking a blaze of blueberry bushes in the fall, or walking with your dog in a place where she’s free to roam and sniff to her heart’s content? What is the value of taking your loved ones to a place that has been beloved by people in the community for generations, and feeling the same affection for the land that anchored them?

I have always felt lucky to have ended up in Midcoast Maine, in large part because of its natural beauty. Another reason I feel that way is the number of other people here who value wild spots as much as I do.

If you have a favorite place in nature, I hope you will do what you can to take care of it and keep it open for future generations. Places like the blueberry field behind our house are vital, because they connect us to the rest of nature. They remind us that we, too, derive from that world and will always be part of it.

Republican Journal editor Sarah E. Reynolds is a longtime employee of Courier Publications.

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