September 27, 2021
By Arthur H. Gunther III
Once in my parts, a section of the Northeast where as yet not all the woods have been bulldozed by “Progress,” we measured fall’s coming by morning humidity on the side of a white clapboard garage. The glisten was subtle, almost like a fine spray of matte lacquer, not the obvious, invasive, sweating droplets of August dog days. Accompanied by brisk air and the first whiff of turning leaves, those who enjoy changes in season were pleased.
Today, such dew still hits “Novelty-style” siding on the fewer white garages standing, but more often the glisten must endure co-ownership with an intensifying summer ravage: green and black mold.
Summers in the Northeast seem much more humid (whether that be a condition of Progress or not), and the moist air particularly likes vinyl siding, which is Progress’ answer to repainting garages. Even the embossed woodgrain look provides shelter for water to tarry and invites mold to come stay a spell. Most of this mold is green, though it goes to dangerous black on some really humid sites. And while the north side is favored, mold creeps around buildings, cheered on by tree and shrub overgrowth that come to the Progress celebration.
Now if all this seems a metaphor for what comes in the swath of growth, of Progress, it surely is. The building lot, the raw material for Progress, includes centuries of trees, meadows and other vegetation, lowlands and highlands that the bulldozer often does not respect as to intended contour for good water runoff and proper land use. A house built on it may eventually be overgrown by poorly trimmed trees and close-foundation shrubs, and then the inevitable mold. Storms arrive and basement flooding or downed power lines result, the collateral of the march of Progress.
Of course, Progress can go in for annual check-ups, for maintenance, so that the quality of living in a nice home can be protected for both homeowners and the neighbors affected downstream. And not every property – in suburbia, in Gotham, in rural scape – is visited by mold, this metaphor for the general house cleaning required as homeowner responsibility. But, still, there’s more mold out there these days, it seems.
The writer is a retired newspaperman. This essay is adapted from an earlier one.