They Paved Paradise

They have decimated the woods behind our house. Across an expanse of fenceless back yards, there used to lie a quiet copse of mostly oaks and scrub oaks that huddled on the banks of a creek, surrounded by natural prairie grasses. But all that’s gone now...
The John Deeres moved in and flattened everything and filled in the stream with soil, to make room for more houses, more blacktop, more swing sets, more gas grills, and more lonely, chained dogs.
We used to enjoy sitting on the back step on summer full moon nights, watching the fireflies dance in that copse. We told the kids they weren’t fireflies at all, but faeries dancing in the moonlight. At the time of the next summer solstice, we’ll see no faeries or fireflies. Instead, we’ll see fences, back porch lights, trampolines, and the blue television-lit bedroom windows of students, commuters, and rat-racers. I’m glad we’re moving at the end of July.
Last summer, when it was so hot and dry, we spotted a box tortoise in our yard who had safely crossed the road from the cedar grove. It was heading for the creek and we didn’t want to detain him, but we placed some lettuce, melon, and water in his path. He stopped long enough to refresh himself and then went on his slow, but determined way. No more tortoises will use our yard as their highway.
Last spring a family of rabbits nested beneath our holly bush, and there is a fox that roams around here, who stops to look me in the eye every time I see her. And there are the deer that walk silently in the snow on late winter nights. Soon, all these will be gone too. Already, the street in front of our house (which used to be a country road) is used day and night by cars pounding out “boom-boom” on their stereos, even in the middle of the night. I am forever picking empty beer cans and McDonalds wrappers out of the front yard.
I fear for the rabbits, the fox, the deer, the tortoise. This year we never even got the Cardinals who used to nest in the cedars. When birds quit visiting, nature has been sufficiently destroyed.

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