There were no more cats. This should have been a warning of what was to come and yet I failed to see it. Much like the foreshadow of a horror movie that leaves the audience wondering how the protagonist could fall for such a transparent stunt; I found myself covered in confusion wondering how I could be so blind. There were no more cats!

For the last 20 years of my life I cannot think of a day that went by where I was not made aware of a stray cat in my yard be it from the playful whimper of my collie, Max, or the ever fun; puffy tailed screech of my cat Roo. Once Roo and Max had passed, laid to rest in the backyard beside the shed and under the protection of the old Yellow- Cedar tree, the security of the house was passed to Ninja cats Meesha and Gypsy and Senorita Fluff Pup Tassie. Over this last year however, their warnings became far and few between. Their meows, hisses and barks of warning was replaced with the slow rumble of an excavator. All around us the landscape was being ripped apart, trees slammed to the ground, brush ripped from the earth, houses pancaked to rubble. Instead, condo’s and townhomes pierced the sky while concrete jungles twisted its way along the forest engorging on the vegetation like a gluttonous vampire. Forever gone are the barns and brush that hosted the birthing mothers of tiny fuzzy kittens.

Had I not had to do the mapping exercise I would have never realized what was happening in my own backyard. My parents had sold the family home, the last street not to be touched by the destruction of a growing population, one of the last streets with trees, forests, grasslands and natural nature. I use the words ‘natural nature’ as it seems all the brush, flowers and tree’s planted in replacement of the organisms ripped out do not belong. Time and time again all the plants being planted in the long cookie cutter gardens of a strata need to be replaced as they cannot withstand the environment in which they have been planted. It seems it is more about cost efficiency rather than exploring what would actually thrive. Disgusted glare, long annoyed sigh and moving on….

Had I not had to do this mapping exercise I would have never thought about all the things I am going to be missing. For the last 20 years my mom has made it her mission to ensure that all 4 of her bird feeders are bursting with seed all year round. Ensuring the birds food over all four seasons. As a result, our backyard became an epicenter of Black-Capped Chickadee’s, Chestnut-Backed Chickadee’s, Bushtit’s, House Finches, Spotted Towhee’s, Robins, Song Sparrow’s, Downy Woodpecker’s, Northern Flicker’s, Stellar Jay’s, Fox Sparrow’s, White-crowned Sparrow’s, Dark-eyed Junco’s, American Goldfinch’s, European Starling’s, and house Sparrow’s. Not a day would go by where you could step outside and not hear hundreds of birds singing while bouncing amongst the cotton wood. This is their home. Or I suppose the correct term should be, this was there home. Once the tree’s go, the birds will be gone. Forced to find new homes, new feeding grounds and new places to raise their young.

I guess I had never really thought about the loss before… Thought about how in one simple flip of a switch, rev of an engine and a peddle push to the floor can destroy 26 years of family, 20 years of a bird sanctuary and the final resting place of my childhood dog and cat. I never thought about each moment no longer existing; no more waking to the chipper songs of the Chickadee’s, the complaining of rants of the Stellar Jay or the chattering warnings of the grey squirrel. If you had asked me a year ago if I saw this coming I would have firmly said ‘Not a chance’. But that was because I missed mother natures warning of what was to come; There were no more cats.

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