By Kathy Floyd
Are they objects of beauty, the giant pinwheels that rise out of the mesquite and brush? Their
long blades turn with easy grace in the hot, dry Texas breeze, transforming that energy into the
fuel that powers all our comforts and new-fangled gadgets. Or, are they soldiers of white steel
and fiberglass, marching across the shortgrass?
Five years ago, I wrote about wind turbines. When one of the company men commented on the
natural beauty of the land where the turbines were being planted, I asked if it was contradictory
to place them in an area that had natural beauty. His answer was that most of our landscape had
been touched by human involvement, and much like the changes that farming brings to the land,
the turbines, too, would become part of the natural landscape. I will not forget that he paused
between each word in his answer, as if trying to convince himself as he said the words out loud.
What will the turbines be like in 25 years? Will they age as our own bodies do? Will they
become pitted and rusted, looking more like a discarded pinwheel that a child has blown on so
many times that it can no longer spin?
Last night, as I stood with a gathering of writers on a ridge west of Archer City, the lights of
town glowed low and steady to the east as a guide to our way back home. Only the brightest stars
were brave enough to compete with the light of the full moon. As I took in this beauty, a web of
red lights flickered on and off on the dark horizon, startling me out of my enchantment with the
night — the turbines. Just as the staggered blinking lights served as a warning in the dark to lowflying
airplanes, they were a reminder to us that they were out there, waiting to advance.