There's a road grader in The Pasture.
The thought registers a few seconds after my eyes see it. It takes a few more seconds to make sense of it. Road graders don't usually show up in pastures. It's kind of like seeing a cow in a grocery store parking lot. You just don't expect it.
Then I remember why. The Pasture is going to disappear under a subdivision. That tiny patch on this revolving ball we call Earth has been dirt and plants for as long as the planet has been spinning. But soon -- as testified by the road grader -- that spot will sprout construction and habitation, and another piece of green earth will be history.
And it does have history, that little patch. We call it The Pasture because that's what it looks like, although closer inspection reveals that about half of the plants growing there are alfalfa, and the other half weeds.
The alfalfa, I'm told, is leftover from when some farmer used to farm this entire quadrant of the city. And it wasn't that long ago. In fact, the lot where my home sits also used to be part of that alfalfa field. I pull up random sprouts of alfalfa every spring from far flung corners of my property, despite having lived here for 15 years.
This means, of course, that my house and my neighbors' houses and the roads and the sidewalks were once a farmer's alfalfa field, until someone came along and decided to "grow" a cash crop with a bigger dividend.
The Pasture is one of the last straggler patches left. It's not that big ... maybe three acres at most. The developer plans to put a road through it and line it with homes on both sides.
They're called patio homes, meaning small lots, no basements, and a fine little patio out the back door.
No one comes right out and says it, but these homes will attract an older set of people, who are done with their "farming" days and want as little green area as possible to deal with. So there will be no large gardens, mostly just little patches of grass, lots of concrete, and folks who want it that way.
The next day, when I drive down the street after work, I see the road grader has been busy scraping a road through The Pasture. The bared dirt is almost black, as alfalfa is one of those plants that gives a lot back to the earth that supports it. It's perfect dirt, the kind you'd like to sink some seeds into and watch grow. This dirt, however, will be planted with concrete.
I'm wrestling with this a bit because of the kite-flying memories. There isn't a better place within miles of here to fly kites. No overhead lines, a couple of acres to run, and just around the corner from home.
My children, and then their children, have lofted kites in The Pasture, feeling the spring and autumn breezes, reveling in the freedom of a soaring kite, peeling away hours of worry from the privilege of holding onto a tugging string.
I'm grateful for those years of kite flying. You don't expect to be able to fly a kite in the middle of a city, so that's been a bonus -- one we didn't appreciate enough until we see it being plowed under.
It's OK, of course. The property isn't mine; it belongs to someone who grew alfalfa and weeds on it, then sold it to someone who wants to develop it. This is how neighborhoods are built. This is how cities are built. This is how my own house was built.
My husband and I take a last walk through The Pasture. It's evening time. The black dirt is hard beneath our feet. The alfalfa and weeds dance in the breeze. I think about the families that will soon live right where I'm standing. They will have a beautiful place to live. I'm glad for them.
The breeze picks up and I feel it curl around me, see it twirl the alfalfa, watch it ruffle up my husband's hair.
And for old time's sake, for one last flight, I sure wish I had a kite.
You can contact D. Louise Brown at email@example.com or leave a message at 625-4220.