“Everything Can Change Overnight” was written a long time ago, when we lived in an unincorporated area of northern Illinois. Corn fields became subdivisions and shopping malls. Cars went by fast, and it wasn’t easy to go for a long walk after awhile.
The following poem was how I felt when fields by our home started going the way of development too.
Yet, there was a saving grace: wetlands.
Part of the area had to become ponds; signs posted later on taught us that this protected our basements from water. Native plants were added, herons and red-wings came. “The pond” became a place of healing for me. I walked on safe gravel paths and sat on benches. It was beautiful in every season and has stayed in my soul. I take country roads for my errands here, so I can still know this aspect of God’s gifts to us in nature. I listen for the red-wings every spring and see herons here too.
Here is the poem, however, exactly as I wrote it back then. Perhaps this story can offer hope that things can turn out better in the long run than we first imagine.
I have loving memories of this little house and neighborhood–it was simply time to come home to Wisconsin.
Everything Can Change Overnight
In the Midwest, if you’re a walker
You walk through the seasons:
Today brings a blast of wind and
The first snow of the year;
So I add another layer and
Head out…And look! See how
The snow gives dignity back
To these familiar fields,
Sacrificed to another subdivision.
Nobody’s working now, and the
Silent tractors stand like
Tired oxen pleading forgiveness
For the pain that ripped across
My heart the day the assault began.
Everything can change overnight,
But the wind that chaps my cheeks
Soothes my soul.
Published in Poetic Page (1994); and
OMNIFIC (1995, WEEMS CONCEPTS).