WOODY: Last week's paradise next week's dump

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My buddy and I didn't go quail hunting this fall because the old sage field we'd hunted in since we were kids is now a housing development.

A cul-de-sac slices across the field, with expansive brick Colonials towering on both sides. If you shot a quail there now it might land in somebody's patio hot tub.

No danger of that of course; the bramble-choked fence row that once held at least two coveys of bobwhites is now a paved walking path, and a Fitness Spa sits where the old barn used to sag in the weeds.

It's not just the quail fields that are dying. Back in the summer I visited the Stones River Battlefield. As I drove in on the old Nashville highway - a congested, traffic-clogged asphalt artery oozing its way from Nashville to Murfreesboro -- I imagined what Civil War soldiers would think of today's terrain, contrasted to the pastoral landscape they marched over.

Country lanes and rail fences have been replaced by title-loan stores, beer joints, used-tire emporiums and other urban clutter. Just like in 1862, the countryside is under siege.

Today's rolling farmland is tomorrow's strip mall. Last week's unspoiled glade is next week's used-car lot.

I'm convinced that asphalt companies and concrete companies are waging a contest to see who can pave over the planet the fastest.

Years ago when Saturn decided to locate a giant auto manufacturing complex in Spring Hill - at the time a tranquil little Mayberry-like community -- one company executive gushed about how it was destined to become the "next Detroit."

I've been to Detroit. Re-making any community in its image is not something to brag about.

Bobby Bare visited Detroit. He wrote a song about how he wanted to go home.

To put a new twist on an old joke, if I had a brother in prison and a brother in Detroit, I'd break the one out of Detroit first.

Thankfully the smog is so thick that, like in LA, it's hard for the gang-bangers to shoot straight.

I must admit, Detroit's giant sewer rats ARE impressive. Maybe someday Spring Hill, if it keeps "progressing," will have some just as big.

Our elected representatives, of course, encourage such Detroit-type development. They call it "progress," which is political-speak for "more tax money."

With more tax revenue they can pave over more land and build more stuff, which will generate more tax revenue, which they can use to pave over more land and build more stuff …

I know what you're thinking about now (or perhaps several paragraphs earlier): what a cranky old curmudgeon, pining for the past and yearning for the Good Ol' Days. Hanging onto his Annett Funicello posters in a Kim Kardashian world.

Maybe so. As Yogi Berra said, sometimes I miss nostalgia.

I realize that folks need homes to live in and places to work. They want malls to go to, to spend money they don't have on stuff they don't need.

That's why urban sprawl will continue to swallow farmlands and fields, forests and natural areas, until at some point our grandkids will have to go to a museum to see a tree or a trout or a dandelion.

I know it's inevitable. Until then, I'd like to hear a bobwhite whistle one more time.


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