“Don’t you just love it here?" he said.
“Aren’t you glad you live here?"
“Sure, I guess. I just I never really think about it,” she said, the lines in her face showing indication puzzlement. “It’s just that we’ve been here so long, I just take things for what they are.”
“I’m just saying, we’ve lived here for over 25 years and sometimes I forget why we’ve stayed,” he said, his expression showing seriousness. “Why we moved here.”
“Because you said you liked it here,” she spoke, a sardonic tone building in her voice. “You really don’t remember?”
“Sure I do, but things have changed so much.”
“You’re just being nostalgic. You have to admit you were probably complaining about something when we first moved here.”
He ignored her response and began an out-loud contemplation.
“It was all about the trees I think. Yeah, it was the trees. Do you remember driving into Richmond on I-64 and commenting on the trees? And then when we found a house down here, it was in the fall and the smells of the leaves and the colors and what seemed like such fresh air. The following year, the landscape was brilliant with with blooms, and it was so much different than where I was raised.”
“And all the leaves to rake?” she said becoming more amused with his musings. “We could have moved anywhere with your transfer.”
“I know, but I just fell in love with what it would be like in this great temporate forest.”
For him it had always been the trees. He remembered how as a teenager his mother asked, “What are you going to do with your life?” he responded, “Sit under the biggest oak tree I can find and play the guitar.” But as he aged and he became more realistic, moving to Virginia and living in a landscape he loved, the world began changing around him and his beloved trees were becoming fewer and the roads getting wider and there were so many people. Not that he didn’t love the many friends he had made, but lines at the supermarket, shortage of parking, the noise and the fact that he thought no one was addressing how to make the right changes for the future began to weigh on him. Changes that would organize the growth of the local population, reduce the number of cars on the road and somehow provide for him the ability to walk peacefully along streets under the boughs of the trees he loved so much without fearing for his life. It seemed there were cars with those who had to be so busy speeding by him with no real place to go.
“All of a sudden, you’re so uneasy with the turn you think this town or community has taken,” she said interrupting his daydream.
“You’re right. I am uneasy and I’m not sure exactly what to do.”
“In my life, and I know you have always done the same, you take the bull by the horns and do your best to change things. Make this place into what you want or move on.”
“I don’t want to move,” he said, curling down the edges of his mouth. “You know that. We’ve been working to make our little half acre into our own little refuge and I don’t want to give that up, and we have a family here, too.”
“Well then, what are you getting at?”
“You know it’s becoming harder every day to get out of our driveway, and our commute, even to the grocery, has become frustrating at best.”
“Why don’t you get involved with this plan thing they have going on in the county?”
“I went to a couple of their ‘comprehensive plan’ meetings and I came home feeling that I still didn’t know what was going on.” he said, his frustration evident in his voice that was turning more whiny.
“Go to some more meetings, write some letters, call your congressman.”
“It’s supervisor. But I’m not sure how politics enter into this thing. You know in the end the final decision comes down to five people who represent over 300,000 people.”
“Didn’t we elect them to make those important decisions; to take the temperature of their constituents and do our bidding?”
“That’s just it, the do our bidding part. It always seems that there are just a few people special interests, who force their opinions on them and the rest of us just have to live with it.”
“Well then join those few people so you can add your voice to theirs,” she said. She was always so much more logical than he and had some sort of sense about what was the right thing to do. Hers was a life of action. His best, or worst, trait was complaining.
“Maybe I’ll give it another shot, join...”
“Join what?” she said.
“I’m not sure. It seems too late in the game now to get involved.”
“It’s never too late,” she said. “It’ll come to you. Now sit down here and help me figure out what kind of fruit trees we want to plant. You’ve always said you want some fruit trees in the yard.”