I’m not necessarily talking about the woods behind my house, but it seems that most people, at some point in their lives, have a story about a little patch of Earth they used to call home. But it wasn’t really their home. It was a plot of nature nearby that whisked children young and old into a wilderness adventure.
My childhood friend, Kristi, lived with a vacant lot behind her suburban development home. I can’t now figure out why there was a small bit of woods in an otherwise completely developed area, but back then I didn’t care. It was our outpost. We had elaborate trails and forts and I remember feeling like it went on forever and if we weren’t careful, we’d surely get lost. There were berries we pretended to eat to survive, although we were certain they were the deadliest poison known to Man. I’m sure it was no more than a quarter of an acre, but while we were there, we were frontier women of the highest class.
Then one day, the trees were gone. All of them. And then there was a hole in the dirt, followed by blocks and beams and eventually a fairly generic looking two-story colonial with yellow siding. By this time, Kristi had moved on to bigger and better activities like boys and soccer, but I never forgot that forested lot behind her house.
And now, because history repeats itself no matter if we want it to or not, there is new construction happening around our current home. The land does not belong to us on paper, but we have spent a number of years watching it throughout the seasons. We know where the pools are in the spring that supply our yard without forty gazillion toads. We know where the poison ivy grows thick, where the deer walk, and where the hawk lives. We’ve seen him year after year soaring from his nest in the woods down to the field to find something to eat.
Now the field no longer has vegetation to hide the rodents, and I’m not sure where the hawk will find his food supply. The deer will need to go elsewhere, and we find ourselves wondering what we’ll see when we look out the backdoor.
Sad as we feel about losing a chunk of nature, we know that you can’t stop progress that doesn’t belong to you and that change, like repeating history, is inevitable. That house that was built behind my friend? Two really nice little girls moved in there. They were a great asset to the kickball games we held in the cul-de-sac.
But the nature that is in our backyard, under our ownership, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For as long as we are able, there will always be a little patch of woods in our yard, with trails and forts and the world’s most poisonous berries. I’ll even go as far as to say that hawks and deer are welcome.
Originally written 7.12.15