Mind Wandering

As I gaze out my office window, I see seven sparrows lined up on the decorative Juniper tree growing there. The birds all stare at an empty bird feeder, reminding me that the time to begin feeding the tiny critters has arrived. In the past five days, I have spotted a Slate Junco and two woodpeckers in the yard. Clearly, this is a sign that winter is arriving.

Bird watching is one of my favorite hobbies, and I have decided to keep a log of birds spotted in my yard. Logging birds has been one of my pastimes, but I have fallen out of it in the last twenty years. My previous log was kept for over ten years, and I logged seventy species of birds visiting the yard. My binoculars and bird book are always handy during those times.

When the feeding of birds begins, other creatures appear in numbers, like squirrels, rabbits, opossums, and raccoons. When these creatures arrive, I also spot an occasional coyote passing through. Living near open farmland, trees, and wetlands is a benefit. My lot borders the wetland, and a row of very tall cottonwoods grows on the wetland’s edge. Another 500 feet away is a linear forest where an abandoned rail bed has been converted into a bicycle trail. This trail stretches for twenty miles, cutting through the towns of Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lenox. Over the last twenty-five years, the land on either side of the trail has been left to its own and has grown into a thick cover of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. The trail also provides a highway for meandering wildlife through the connecting thickets of trees and even some woods.

Over the past forty years of living in this area, we have been graced with the presence of deer on a few occasions. In the fall and winter, I welcome them into the yard, but during the summer months, I chase them away because they love to eat everything I plant.

On our drive to Indiana in quest of the Sandhill cranes, we saw several dead deer on the highways. This is a sure sign the deer are in rut. Driving during the sunrise and sunset hours can be dangerous because deer dart across a road without looking both ways and often occupy the same space as a driver. The moment that happens usually means death to the deer, and depending upon the car’s age, it can mean the same for it.

As we passed through the vast open farm fields, I thought about living alone when the nearest neighbor might be a mile away, and his house is invisible to you. In most cases, the nearest town maybe ten or twenty miles away, so if you need something from the store, you must consider the cost. Also, getting healthcare in towns of five or six hundred people is difficult, if not impossible. Country living is not my cup of tea, but living in a town of five thousand people could be fun.

When I first moved to Frankfort, the population was about four thousand. All of our neighboring towns were the same. Since then, Frankfort has grown to twenty thousand souls, and I do not like it. The traffic and congestion are heavy, the amount of open space between towns is small, and the distinction between towns has become the same as Chicago with all its neighborhoods. All that is different is that each town has its government, police force, fire department, sewage treatment, water department, library district, park district, and the costs associated with maintaining them. Suddenly, the idea of living in the desolation of farmland becomes appealing again.

2 Responses

  1. A town of 5000 would be cool. Just that I cannot imagine one. I call my growing-up town small, though mid-scale is perhaps the right classification. Its current population is about 2 million. Diff of perspective I guess. For one used to crowded spaces, the vast open spaces of the US seem appealing.

    • Come and visit before the vast open spaces melt into each other. The population of Chicago is two million within its defined boundaries. When we add the surrounding areas all melted into each other, the population grows to 6-8 million. About fifty miles south of Chicago Central, the population shrinks drastically, and there are vast spaces between towns of 300-5000.

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