Six months before that hearing, Sue Hobart took me on a tour of her former home on Blacksmith Shop Road, what she now calls her “toxic house.” The front door opened onto a nearly empty living room, with the exception of a wooden armoire in one corner and a ladder leaning against the wall. A large bay window looked out onto a scrub-oak forest that sweeps around the property, and through the branches we could just make out the flickering of the turbine.
Hobart led me through the house, pointing out items and rooms that sparked particularly fond memories of her life here—the ribbons that her border collies had won for sheepherding, the basement where she used to assemble flower arrangements. But after about a half-hour, Hobart suddenly flattened herself against the wall.
“See,” she said with an uneasy laugh, “this place is already getting to me.” She immediately wanted to leave.
As we exited onto the front porch and into the driveway, I looked up to see the turbine’s long arms; from this distance, I could hear a faint whooshing that reminded me of a ceiling fan. Whomp, whomp, whomp, in steady increments. It was barely audible, and I didn’t find its rhythm disturbing, but it clearly was for Hobart. However much I wanted to understand what she was feeling as she hurried over to her car, I felt nothing—at least nothing that I could describe as an ache or discomfort.
What I felt instead was a kind of wonder at the gap in experience between myself and Hobart. I tried again to focus my attention, to see if I could detect any inner disturbance—the barest intimation of dizziness or nausea or anxiety—but again, nothing. Not even a vibration on the air. Of course, I had spent less than an hour near the turbine. And though I continued to feel nothing, I was a little relieved to drive away.