I had a most interesting thought at work today. While I was taking a break from retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot, I began to imagine what this stretch of land looked like long before it was cleared to make way for the store that now occupies its space. There was only one way to find out.
I began to visualize what was once out here and I could see a group of trees standing in the distance. Closer to where I was standing were palmettos and tall bushes scattered sparsely throughout the sandy clearing. It was here that I began to see this untamed and undeveloped land, untouched and undisturbed for thousands of years.
Then I began to see the wildlife that lived in this area. I could see birds flying to the trees to make their homes on sturdy branches somewhere in the forest. On the ground I could see ants scurrying about in search of food, not even aware of a lizard watching them from a nearby rock that served as an ideal spot for soaking in some afternoon sun. I could also see a snake slithering along the ground in search of shelter to call home. It was truly a lively and busy place in this corner of the woods.
Then I fast forwarded to the present day where this home improvement store now stands. The trees were cleared and the land leveled out, forcing the animals to move elsewhere. Instead of the sandy dunes, there is now pavement that forms the parking lot. I am certain that the confused remnants of the sand dunes still lie underneath the pavement, wondering if they’ll ever see the sun again.
Having completed my return to the present, I resume my work of retrieving shopping carts, walking across the parking lot while staying clear of cars with drivers whose urgent needs brought them here. They only focus on what their needs are right now, not even pausing to think what things were like before this urban sprawl set in. For it was urban sprawl that brought them here to erase what was here long before their arrival. And that’s something I won’t ever forget.