(This is part of a weekly feature called Slice of Life Project)
Nine years of legal battles finally ended this month and a developer is set to destroy a plot of woods near our house for some upscale homes. It breaks our heart. Although we know this land is not ours, we feel as if it is kin to us. We have walked the paths for what seems like forever, with our dog and then with our kids. Resting spots along the trails are homes for treasured memories.
And now, the trees are almost gone and the place looks like some wasteland littered with sawed-off stumps, fallen trees and dead brush. The birds don’t sing quite as loud, nor as happy, as they once did, it seems to us. And where have the deer gone? The chipmunks? The moose we saw running to there one year? And the bears and fox and fisher cats. All moved to some other destination, no doubt, by the roar of machinery.
(This is a path that used to be like a tunnel of overgrown trees. We used to have to stoop to get through. Now, it is just wide open space, and not in a good way)
Yesterday, the five of us walked through there again on a beautiful Spring day and I remembered:
- The twin Big Rocks that are sliced down the middle where the kids used to climb and eat apples, just resting and listening. It was always apples, in my memory. The rocks seemed smaller but I guess it is because the boys are bigger;
- The little island the boys call Frog Island that requires them to balance across log bridges. There are no frogs there and I can’t recall anymore how we came up with the name;
- The place just beyond the Big Rocks where the woods suddenly change to dense Mountain Laurel, and the rocks on the trail become slippery and hidden from sight;
- The fallen log that my oldest son used to try to crawl under, instead of over, and now finds his body too big. The log is still there. Still blocking the trail like some silent guard.;
- The upward incline on the path where I slipped one winter morning with my toddler son in the backpack and slammed his head into the tree (no serious damage except intense guilt);
- The place where two rivers connect just beyond a tunnel, which sits below an old railroad bed, which may be home to a bike trail someday if that legal battle ever gets resolved;
- The sense that all this will disappear so very soon and my kids will be poorer for it.
I tried to joke with my youngest that the Lorax might pop up out of the tree stumps but he would not have any of it. “No Lorax! No Onceler!” he shouted, and I wish this world had no need for the Lorax and that the Oncler understood what he was doing before the devastation of the Truffula Trees. Sometimes, such knowledge comes too late.