Same as it never was

An old man walks his dog along a dusty trail.
The man has on a straw hat, a white undershirt. The dog, no leash.
They maneuver through the harsh first light of the day and shadows still cool with night.
A red-shouldered hawk cries. Mourning doves scatter.
The neighbor's female black cat, Lance, stalks something small and helpless.

There is a 24-acre field across the street from my home. Monday, it was home to skunk, opossum, hawks, ring-tailed cats, doves, quail, blacktail deer, mice, lizards and songbirds of different variety and color.
Tuesday, it will be bulldozed flat to make way for 54 homes.

Neighbors gathered Monday afternoon to complain about progress. How they all wished the city would just leave the field alone, or maybe make it a park. And while I felt the same way, I kept my mouth shut. This subdivision has been coming. For a very long time.
It is private land. It has always been private land. And at some point, homes.
Twenty-four acres of in-fill that makes perfect sense.

Except that the field belonged, in a sense, to all of us who have homes there.
No more letting the dogs roam free. No more getting the field glasses out to spy a ring-neck pheasant or an osprey. No more mountain bike rides, when I was just too tired to put the bike on the rack and drive somewhere.

I'll miss the place. Miss it terrible. The homes going up will look nothing like the homes that surround it (my home was built in 1964). They will be big. They'll likely be stucco. They'll have sodded lawns and sticks for trees.

The trees. That's the best feature of the field. The valley oak trees. Oaks so old, so gnarled, you just had to go put your hands on them.
"I'm glad to see they're saving so many of them," a friend said.
The ones that will escape the bulldozing are sectioned off with orange plastic fencing. Lots of oaks are wrapped in orange. Many are not.

As dawn broke, I sat and watched the field today. The last day as it was. The first day as it will not be. But the first day as it was always meant to be (in developer's terms).
I am sad that when I get home, it will look nothing like it did when I got up. And in a few months, it'll just be a web of asphalt that connect the 54 homes that will be built (of course, you can't complain much; the field was zoned for 78 homes, and the builder decided for larger lots).

Progress means different things to different people.
Life isn't static. It is constantly in flux.
And that includes a 24-acre patch of field.
No matter how much you'd love it to remain.
It will make way for homes and families and bike rides and basketball backboards and skateboard ramps.
It'll become a bigger part of my neighborhood.
And if it helps save a patch of real open space somewhere else, then I'm OK with that.

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