The Suitcase Lady


January 15, 2014, 3:06 am

We knew it was time to move when the leaves weren’t allowed to fall.

For thirty years we lived in a small house on a large lot in an exceedingly well-trimmed city neighborhood. Immediately after moving in, we began planting trees. Our yard was already graced with a mature willow and clump birches; we added mountain ash, maple, black walnut, poplar and apple trees.

Our neighborhood was the perfect place for both children and trees to grow. A park and a creek were a block away. Schools, grocery stores, a drugstore and even our dentist were all within walking distance.

Wishing to be good neighbors, we followed the community norms. Once a week, we faithfully mowed the lawn and edged the sidewalks. After every storm, our yard cleanup began after the last raindrop fell. We raked up sixty bushels of leaves each autumn and shoveled tons of snow within hours of each blizzard.

As the years flowed by, we realized the yard had become a splendid habitat for urban wildlife. Birds flocked to our feeders and nested in the lush trees. One year the squirrels co-opted our son’s treehouse for their nest platform. Ducks waddled over from the creek, and a possum took up residence under our deck. We welcomed our visitors.

Unfortunately, many of our neighbors viewed the wildlife as spoilers of the immaculate, man made order of their yards. Plans were usually made for the speedy removal of any trespassing creatures.

Then, one day, our immediate neighbors complained that leaves from our messy trees were blowing into their yard. Simultaneously, most of our local shops were relocating to the suburbs as megastores, and our beloved creek was completely lined with concrete, causing it to resemble an open sewer.

One of the few constants in life is change: how we respond to the changes determines our happiness. We decided to move to the country and build a modest house with multitudes of windows from which to view the woods, wildlife and water. Now the grasses grow tall and unmowed, the leaves fall and are unraked and two of our three outer doors remain unshoveled. All animals are welcome in the Tooley Cafe.

The television got left behind in that move eighteen years ago. All the entertainment we need is outside our windows. Nature provides an infinite number of channels… no cable needed.


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