When we moved to Birchwood Drive in 1979, there were only six houses on the whole street. It dead ended at six acres of woods, and coming from flat Chicago, I marveled at giant old trees.
Inside those woods one could swing on an enormous vine. There was an azalea farm next to it and more acres of property including an old lady inside an old Victorian house.
When it rained, we would sit on the covered front porch and watch sheets of water slice across the street. The enormous branches would bend and the air smelled of electricity, wet leaves and damp earth.
The neighbors on our street were comprised of doctors, small business owners, a financial executive and an architect. They lived in quaint “Dutch” houses and I don’t remember anyone driving expensive cars. Their bedrooms were small, some of the houses lacked air conditioning and the luxury consisted of living on big pieces of land surrounded by nature. Privacy and discretion intermingled with self-denial and self-improvement. The kids went off to college while the old folks stayed behind.
When the street and historic forest was bulldozed, to create a world of moonscape McMansions, I predicted that the new residents would drive up and down in SUVs. Back and forth, they would speed, to enter three car garages while hardly interacting with each other. My premonitions have now materialized, and to quote Hillary, “If I knew then what I knew now, I would have voted against…..”
An architectural metaphor exists in a new super-sized house buried below grade, an obese dwelling dying under the weight of too much debt, too many cars. It seems sad to think that even this inferior lot had to be maximized to please the developer builder investors. Nature has its revenge, it always wins…..
The destruction began in 2003, and now it is 2008, and the old Birchwood Drive is changing. We are selling, the two other neighbors are selling, and we live on a road where the way of life is exiting to be seen and heard from no more.