For years, a forest cupped the end of Cedar Street, one over from where I live, keeping out people, cars, and all but the smallest animals. Then one day a yellow bulldozer appeared. It snuck in from behind the houses, clearing a rough, muddy tree-stubbled road which Annie and I stumbled through, emerging at the edge of a canyon we knew was there but had never seen up close. We felt like adventurers in a distant land, dodging mice and garter snakes for the ultimate view. Then we discovered the opening curved around to the edge of the woods at the end of cedar. We snuck through the trees and emerged on the paved road, muddy and grinning at our discovery.
The next time we walked down Cedar, something didn’t look right. As we moved north, I realized I was seeing light where light had not come through before. The forest was gone. The yards of the homes on either side suddenly gaped open with a vast view of canyon, yellow-flowered Scotch broom, and signal lights from the airport a half mile south. Annie and I walked straight across a litter of fallen trees and mud to gaze across. Of course I didn’t have my camera that day.
Sunday, after a heavy shower, the rain stopped, and the sun came out just before sunset, making everything a beautiful yellow against charcoal clouds. Annie was aching for a walk. This time I brought the camera. You can guess what happened. The bulldozers were gone, nothing left but piles of felled trees and logs, mud and a half-eaten peanut buttered and jelly sandwich. We slogged through a half mile of muck to the edge of the canyon. I raised my camera for the ultimate shot, pressed on the shutter button . . .The camera beeped at me. “Battery exhausted.” Sometimes I can force out another picture or two, but not this time. It was done. We stood and admired nature for a while, breathing in the Christmas-tree scent of fallen pines, watching a barn swallow circle overhead. Maybe another day.
I suspect more houses will be built here. As much as I hate seeing trees go down, I know that somebody bulldozed part of the forest to build my house, too. Like the end of Cedar, the end of my street is surrounded by trees, but the ribbon of forest between my land and the next property seems to grow thinner all the time. Such is the way of the west.