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by Dee Walmsley

Where are they?

This morning as I sat sipping coffee watching momma chickadee trek back and forth collecting insects on my blue spruce for her nesting clutch, I thought of the lost habitat I have witnessed since coming to this area fifty years ago.Then trees ruled, and human homes were small cottages each with their own name. "Dun movin’, Home Away From Home, Paradise", were but a few. Mother christened ours "HaMaJimDa", made up from our names.

Summer brought forth the city folks who opened their seaside hide-a-ways. Dad left his family making sandcastles while he drove back to the city until Friday when he returned with groceries and treats.

As the sun set bonfires lit the shores while the sweet smells of roasting corn, potatoes, and wieners mixed with the salt air. It was not uncommon to see a large pot of boiling water cooking freshly caught crabs or buying them at local stands for a buck a piece.

There were no ghetto blasters, drugs, violence, or trashing of property. Back then, we respected our friends and neighbours, our most daring activity… playing Nicky-Knicky Nine-Doors.

We lived in a less noisy and busy world, where most folks knew and often looked out for each other. No one locked their doors and kids were always home at mealtime. Fast food restaurants were non-existent once you got away from the beach.

South Surrey was a singing forest filled with wildlife and birds. Red foxes, coyotes, deer, raccoons, weasels, salamanders, opossum, squirrels, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles and owls all co-existed as nature intended. Predator and prey balanced the eco-system.

Then humans seeking solitude and a more natural lifestyle began encroaching on the forest. Soon roads replaced the deer trails. Mature trees home too much of the wildlings became lumber, then human habitat. Word spread bringing more humans and more habitat destruction. Some animals seeking shelter, considered pests by their new neighbours, were exterminated. Others moved deeper into their remaining territory. Over the years, arterial roads wove in and out of the forest sucking the life from its heart.

Today there are few animals and even fewer trees. Massive million dollar houses blur the landscape. Greedy developers scour the neighbourhood determined to clear-cut every tree. City folk who moved here to get away from it all are now cutting or topping two hundred year old trees for a better view.

Sometime soon, hopefully before the last tree falls, developers will move on to rape another forest.

Sometime soon, there will not be any land left in our community to ravage.

Sometime soon, our managers will have to pass laws to stop this warfare. Humans will have to wait for a vacancy before moving in if they want to preserve any of the reasons they moved here in the first place. It is coming…why wait any longer.

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