Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

For many years, congested in the big city, I dreamt of moving to Mayberry. Five years ago, it became a reality. Although, as things are never what they appear, we find ourselves a smidgen off target, living outside Hooterville.

We've enjoyed our time on the bluff above the gurgling creek, hidden amidst the trees and bunnies of a dense forest. We planned to enlarge our cabin and spend the golden years here, dodging falling pine cones and acorns, and the occasional raccoon, duck, and box turtle.

The new road pierces the forest.Wednesday morning, our bliss sprung a leak. Heavy equipment rolled onto the virgin acreage adjoining our spread, ripping out immense oaks like they were twigs. A new driveway was carved through six acres of hitherto serenity and beauty, terrorizing the wildlife, the Durretts, and our smattering of neighbors who had moved nearby to dodge "progress."

To make matters worse, the disruptive landowner is far too secretive about his plans. He says nothing, answers no questions.

Zoning laws are lax in the country. We face either one to four unwelcome houses, a chicken farm, a trailer park, a campground, commercial enterprises, or any horror one can fit on a pretty hill. We tell ourselves the intrusion might not be so bad, but some bad will be attached nonetheless. I cling to the wavering hope of no Shoe Circus.

And the wildlife. We grieve for the critters. Man strikes again and lives are ruined.

I find myself peering out the kitchen window dozens of times throughout each day, expecting to see the next piece in the puzzle struggle up the gravel road to claw septic holes and pour the concrete. An occasional gopher, clutching a carpetbag, scurries down a path in the opposite direction.

Our pals, the deer.For now, uprooted extended families -- the deer, our favorites -- continue to make skittish appearances in our yard. We wonder, as I suspect they do, how long it will be possible to survive in nature.

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