19 September 2005

- Where Have All the Cattle Gone? -

When our neighborhood was developed thirty years ago or so, it was out in the country. The main road that served it was a narrow country lane; and even the "big" artery that it fed into was a simple winding two-lane road. The neighborhood was essentially carved out of farm land.

Well, much of this had changed already when we moved in. The country lane had just been widened and extended to reach a major state highway. Much of the land that abutted the country lane had been developed. The artery had been straightened and is now a major four-lane cross city thorughfare.

But through it all, there was one large undeveloped tract along the country lane and this tract regularly had cattle grazing on it. So we could still imagine the country and place ourselves within it. Though of course at a conscious level we always knew otherwise—we knew very well that we were part of a large metropolitan area—such fantasies are important in defining a space for yourself, in allowing a space to define you.

Over the past month, however, I've watched this last tract of undeveloped land being cleared for development. We haven't seen the cattle now for probably six months. Yes, barring a major recession in the next few months, we've probably seen the last of our cattle. And that makes me sad.

For if the cattle have indeed disappeared forever, we will have to adjust to the fact that, though we haven't moved, we are now living in another place.