Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunset Field Forever

We have the great good fortune to live in a neighborhood near a grocery store, several main roads, and a bunch of cow fields. Yes, cow fields.

It seems the county or some entity gives tax breaks for grazing land, so the undeveloped lots around our neighborhood have been home to quirky cattle herds and a few bee hives in the years since we moved in.

These fields dominate our journeys to-and-fro, changing from lush and green—even swampy—in summer, to dry and brown in the winter, when the laissez faire custodians dump hay for the cattle. The cattle, unregulated by their guardians, breed and birth at will, giving us adorable newborns to watch in every season.

I’ve watched the fields as I took my healthy pregnancy walks, as I toted babies in backpacks, slings, and strollers, and, more recently, as we took family bike rides or I ran for myself. I’ve composed poetry as I meditatively passed the ponds, solitary trees, and seasonal grasses. The kids have laughed in delight over peeing cows, bulls, and calves. They’ve seen cows nurse their babies and “big kid” calves learn to eat grass. I even proved to Big A. that cows can, in fact, run and it is, in fact, hysterical to watch.
On the way to Sunset Field.

One particular field, the largest and farthest from our house, could only be reached on foot on the best days. It’s a solid mile and a quarter there (and the same back again), so to take a mom/baby or mom/toddler duo there requires ideal conditions. All the same, we drive by it on our way to church, one of our schools, the mall, Target, the dojang, the dry cleaner…you get the idea.

One morning when S. was an infant, we drove past an early morning flock of Florida parakeets in the field. New to Florida, I seriously doubted my sanity when I saw that flock of green birds! And I’ve always enjoyed checking in the brindle cow that has stood out from her herd since we moved in. Her beautiful black and brown coat made her easy to spot and I loved that I’d “known” her for over ten years.

Why we call it Sunset Field--and this probably only shows a third of the sky visible.
Home to the bee hives and the largest herd of cattle, this field also offers a beautiful unobstructed view of the western sky. I didn’t realize until just recently that I thought of it as “Sunset Field.” When we drive home from activities or dinner out and spot color in the sky, we always say, “Wait until we get to the Sunset Field—this is a good one!”

Nothing last forever. Around when we expected Little A., developers came sniffing around, applying for zoning variances and presenting development plans to nearby neighborhoods. Well, with Little A. came the recession and the developers vanished for a while. We’ve been grateful for that slight silver lining in the cloud that hurt so many.
The fence coming down.

And now, as things look up for the economy, the developers have reappeared. The zoning hearing is over, the cows are gone, the picturesque white fence is coming down, and Sunset Field will be renamed Cobblestone, home 180 houses instead of a herd of cows.

I’ve cried over this—it’s crazy, isn’t it? For someone who has lived her whole life in areas that are beautiful, rapidly developing, or both, I still get awfully attached.

At least now I have the wisdom to take an evening at Sunset Field, as I wished I had with so many spots before, when other beloved land was lost. Yes, I photographed it, but I also took time to stand there with Bruno and smell the air, feel the open space, hear the evening quiet, and just be.

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