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Taking the back road to music and nature

Published April 6, 2007


I understand about indecision

But I don't care if I get behind

People livin' in competition

All I want is to have my peace of mind.

Peace Of Mind, Boston


Lately, my peace of mind has come inside my car as I traverse our area's back roads. If you get lost on the narrow ribbons of asphalt east of Valrico Road and north of State Road 60, you can still find woods, strawberry fields and pastures that have yet to be overwhelmed by development.

The drives are made all the more pleasant by rolling down the window and cranking up the tunes on the CD player. My musical tastes are as diverse as the flavors you find in the ice cream shop, but for the last month or so I've been rediscovering some rock favorites from the '70s and '80s.

They're the kind of songs that remind you of the skating rink, that first middle school dance and the old Himalaya ride at the fair.

And in a way, they make you appreciate folks who are sustaining our environment. Ride along with me and I'll explain.


Carry on, you will always remember

Carry on, nothing equals the splendor

Now your life's no longer empty

But surely heaven waits for you

Carry On My Wayward Son, Kansas


When I first got behind the wheel as a teenager, I fell in love with driving. It wasn't because I liked to go fast but because I liked to go away. I escaped on the canopied roads near Tallahassee and I'm happy to say I've found a few around here that remind me of home.

My point is that, while I'm not out hunting or fishing, I do commune with the environment in this uncommon manner. Even though I'm out taking Sunday drives in a nonhybrid car, I would hate to see my pleasure rides go away just like the guy in the canoe would hate to see his favorite river threatened. I never thought of myself as a tree hugger, but surely all of us should have an appreciation for nature's gifts.


Let's make the best of the situation

Before I finally go insane.

Please don't say we'll never find a way

And tell me all my love's in vain.

Layla, Eric Clapton

My environmental epiphany has heightened my appreciation of the conservation movement. Last week, I got reacquainted with one right in our back yard on Falkenburg Road.

From the street, the red brick building looks something like an office complex. The average person probably doesn't know they're looking at a facility that turns 1,200 tons of household garbage into renewable energy every day.

The Covanta Hillsborough Resource Recovery center does just that, and the effort led to the facility getting a Healthy Hero award from the Patel Foundation for Global Understanding.

The county facility, now in its 20th year, is expanding. By early 2009, it will convert 1,800 tons of trash into enough electricity to power more than 40,000 homes.

Translation: I'm a little less likely to see an ugly landfill polluting the ground when I'm out on one of my rides.

"Everything we do, we leave for our children," Covanta vice president Joseph Treshler said. "If we're relying on landfills, that's something another generation will have to deal with it."

For an energy plant to win an environmental award is surprising, but we can't be healthy without a environment that supports wellness.

And I can't be mentally healthy without my rides through the country.


There are times when all the world's asleep,

The questions run too deep

For such a simple man.

Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned

The Logical Song, Supertramp


Hopefully, we've learned that we can't take even the simplest of pleasures for granted. Rock on.

That's all I'm saying.

Ernest Hooper also writes a column for the Tampa and State section. He can be reached at or 813 226-3406.

[Last modified April 5, 2007, 07:56:20]

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