Saturday, July 18, 2009

Living green

There's something about living in the woods. They're green, private, and quiet. If you live 100 feet off the street like we do, it's almost like living in the country. We open our windows and breathe the night oxygen before sending the kids off to school. Our window vistas are bark and leaves and pine cones.

It's noisy, but we're not hearing traffic. The birds shout us awake in the early morning. Comes spring, the squirrels scold their young and the woodpeckers glide onto stumps to glut on insects. Summer breezes swish and sing through the treetops. The needles and maple "helicopters" rustle off their stems in an ongoing patter. Winter gales crash against the 100' firs near the creek. We can feel the trees shudder. A mild earthquake shakes our houses when they fall.

Neighbors watch each other's yards to make sure no one trespasses. A few years ago, we heard someone chopping wood. My former neighbor waded into the shrubbery, hollering and cursing some kids who were running around with a hatchet, playing Paul Bunyon. "Get outa there! I'm not sending the ambulance to getcha, and your parents won't be suing me when you trip and hurt yourselves!" Off they ran. And the woodland calmed again.

People sometimes complain about Seattle's strict zoning laws, wishing they could push over some of the timber to build a house here, carve out another lot there. They can't know and love the land the way we do. Living in the forest, we watch the seasons emerge and exhale. We turn off city streets after running an errand to enter green paradise. And we appreciate the foresight of city planners who made the area more beautiful by inviting us to observe rather than "improve" the landscape with our own ideas.

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