When I was in grade school, I used to play in the never ending Nebraska wheat fields that outlined my backyard. There was a natural spring which wound around in the form of a creek throughout the wheat field. After school, my older brother Joe and I would race down to the creek with our buckets and sit with our feet dangling in the water. There we would imagine all kinds of the things, being inspired by the creek. Sometimes he and I would even hop in the creek and catch tadpoles, minnows, or craw fish.
Our backyard was not far from the creek, we had many unexpected visitors. One time I ran out back to get my mom’s watering can. There were five white tailed deer, and they were so close it seemed like they were towering over me. They stared, watching to see who would make the first move. Of course, I jumped and ran the other direction as fast as I could. It was matting season and I didn’t want to be charged by a male deer. One day before school a red fox was chasing a wild turkey in our backyard. They both were so beautiful. The colors of their feathers and fur were the most vivid colors than I had ever seen before!
About five years later, the city bought the land behind our house. The wheat field slowly dwindled and the creek dried up. Now, the only silver I see is cement sidewalks that wind in place of the creek and the wheat field is now twenty rows of houses. Over the years, as the housing development grows. I see an increasing number of dead animals sprawled out over the highway, and something inside of me tells me this isn’t right. All of these busy streets, businesses and houses don’t belong here. The urban sprawl is taking something that was beautiful and diverse and making it a big block of cement and drywall. It breaks my heart to see all of the natural beauty being taken away and becoming more industrialized.
Driving down the highway, I see a dead raccoon and I think back to that time I saw my first raccoon. It was sleeping in our tree in my backyard. That road-killed raccoon could have been the grandchild of the one that was in my tree. Then I remember how much happiness this rural environment has given me. I remember my brother and I coming home covered head to toe in mud laughing hysterically as my parents sprayed us with the hose.
I miss those days that I spent with the environment. It was my best friend that brought me happiness, laughter and shared new things. I am forever grateful and forever who I am today because of that lucky chance that I got to live with a beautiful, natural backyard playground.
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