I was under no illusion. I knew my corner of the world was undergoing population growth. My fellow commuters had increased in number–either that or the bus somehow lost a dramatic number of seats. I knew that the prices of houses in the city had driven people farther to the outskirts–I mean, I bought a house way up here after all. I have seen the advertisements for new houses. I had seen grass fields turn into fields of houses neatly stacked nearly on top of each other–their sobriquets of deluxe and luxury belying their cookie cutter sameness and miniscule green spaces (no riding lawnmower needed). What I hadn’t seen, due perhaps to wilful blindness, was the killing of a forest.
When I moved here about ten years ago there were long stretches of fields once one got off the highway. Over time, these fields became a field of houses. Has a community grown, or have groups of commuters just shifted their starting points. Do they nod at each other in the supermarket or malls? Do they stop for a chat at the farmer’s market on the weekend? I do not know. I moved to a much older section of town. A smaller house, a more established neighbourhood was what I got, whether I had intended to or not.
Today, while tooling around I came across the starting of a new housing development and my heart sank. When I use the word development, I think of that cartoon character who called it a “revolting development.” Bulldozers and other equipment were tearing down trees and turning the smaller branches into a massive pile of woodchips. The pile of woodchips was so high on the other side of the road that a piece of construction equipment was able to climb on top of it. I had driven past this mini forest many times, but now it will be gone in short order.
I wrote this because I was just feeling negative about the whole thing. I am not a tree hugger (I actually met a literal one of those about 25 years ago–but that is a story for another time.), but it just made me feel rotten. I know people want houses, but there should be fields and forests. There should be trees. There should be gaps where there aren’t houses. There should be variety instead of sameness. Perhaps in time I will forget, but today…..