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The Day the Bulldozers Came
by Atina Diffley
The dawn emerged as one of those indescribably, crisp-clean, blue-fresh, soul- bursting, spring days. The kind of spring day where a person feels as though they have never truly been alive before and the soul leaps beyond any constraints the physical body places on it, causing the body to leap, run and sing, catapulting out into the new day.
It was just such a glorious spring day when the bulldozers started up to tear into the last remaining piece of our 5th generation, 120 acre family farm turned suburb. Somehow, to the drivers it was just another day. How could they not hear every bird singing to burst? The insects even looked joyously happy as they flew about their business.
For myself it was the last chance to say good-bye to land that had merged with my soul. I stood at the sidelines ready to watch the last piece of it disappear forever, soon to be rolling under lawns of sod, with formaldehyde enriched executive estates, unrecognizable, with its landmarks gone.
The bulldozers began what to them, was just another days work, following orders, earning their daily bread. As they scraped and flattened, destroying the ecosystem before them, nature exploded. Out of every tree, bush, weed, hill, crevice, out of the very air itself, life exploded. Deer, rabbits, groundhogs, birds, squirrels, gophers, mice, insects, everything alive and self propelled, erupted from the environment with the panic of impending doom. Unable to understand what was happening and without any previous warning, they fled for their lives.
The air and ground were suddenly filled as mobs of creatures rushed to escape the monster in their living room. They put the word out and creatures a distance from the war zone could be seen abandoning their homes, carrying their newborn, udder panic emanating on all fronts.
Animals in their haste to depart, bumped against my legs, never noticing the human enemy, whom they normally avoided at all costs, in their attempts to escape this unknown terror.
A scene from Bambi, mad, heedless escape. Within minutes the site was cleared of all except a slow tortoise. I picked him up and gave him a ride out of the danger zone. I left the site too, though with slower, sadder steps than the glory of the spring day dictated. What life had existed there was now gone, and as I glanced back at the trees and plants, lying crushed, unable to flee, I knew I needed to look in a new direction to keep my soul alive and young.
That day will live on in the history of those animals as another one of the horrid, ununderstandable, actions of humans.
The day the bulldozers came.
Progress in the 20th century?
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