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Signs of change measured in tornadoes, cacti and lizards

Don't it always seem to go • That you don't know what you've got • 'Til it's gone • They paved paradise • And put up a parking lot …

lyrics from "Big Yellow Taxi"

The sentiment in that old Joni Mitchell song rings a bell for me. It's not really a cheery thought, but now and then I can't help thinking about things I've lost. Like, say, my upper teeth. • I had never properly appreciated them. All it took was one fall, face first in a parking lot. I wondered if that was where they paved over paradise. • I sometimes wonder where my muscle strength went. I had it just other day.

Here in Arizona, where we live, I've actually seen the paving of paradise and now the beautiful, pristine desert has been pushed away by this megalopolis. Whoops. It's gone. Those majestic saguaro cacti don't spring forth majestically overnight.

There's a lot of difference between what we've personally paved over in our lives and what we've done as a society. One marriage got paved over when I lost my husband to cancer.

One can't forget the rearranging done by nature. It will be a very long time before the people of Joplin, Mo., adjust to what a tornado did to their lovely town last year.

If you moved away from your old hometown and plan to return, be prepared for many changes you won't necessarily be thrilled with. It's amazing how many memories are connected to places. Unfortunately places change. The other part is our memories are colored by the events we remember. If it was a happy event, our memories make the setting beautiful. Unfortunately, the reverse is true as well. They've paved over a lot in my old hometown.

I wonder who paved Congress? They're certainly a parking lot now.

I read a little article in the paper recently that said the Sumatra elephant may soon be extinct due to deforestation. Some elephants need forests. Orangutans live there too. It seems a shame. I suppose it's inevitable given how many of us there are on this planet and how many more there will be.

I used to live in an unpaved part of Florida. I was pretty close to a swamp. It was the only place I've ever lived where reptiles were at the top of the food chain. Most of my nearest neighbors were reptiles. We never got into arguments. I was mindful of them.

Alas, my little home in the swamp, which I affectionately called the Wahoo Lizard Ranch, will probably be paved over some day. The majestic great trees will be cut down. In many ways it was a paradise. Gopher tortoises marched around and burrowed in the sandy soil.

Now I live in a thoroughly paved environment. I remember it when it was less paved when my parents first moved here.

It was nicer then.

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Signs of change measured in tornadoes, cacti and lizards 02/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 3:30am]
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