A slice of heaven goes to hell

by Ogi Overman

It doesn’t take much to set off our two dogs, Pesky and Papi. A squirrel, the Canada geese that live in the adjacent pond, one of the neighbors’ dogs that’s gotten loose, sometimes even a gust of wind blowing leaves is enough to send them into a high-decibel turf war with every living creature, real or imagined, outside their split-rail boundaries. But one early evening last week their normal frenzy over a passing critter got ramped up a notch or two. Or three.

Judging from the commotion outside, I suspected that they’d encountered something more than your basic kitty teasing them from the other side of the fence. No, this was something outside their realm, a possum or raccoon, perhaps. Just as I was opening the back door to wave the hounds in, I spotted the object of their fury. Plural objects, actually; three to be exact.

At first glance it was merely three white objects, bouncing up and down a couple feet beyond the screen porch. But it only took another split second to realize these were three white-tailed deer in my backyard. Inside the city limits. Less than a hundred yards from a heavily traveled five-lane road. Soon, I feared, to be roadkill.

It was not hard to follow the young deer, even at dusk, as they bounded past the fence and over the dry creek that serves as our property line. They zig-zagged through the few remaining trees from what used to be a forest, up the hill of red mud that used to be grass and scrub brush, veering around the newly poured concrete slab, the bulldozer, road scraper, backhoes and other assorted signs of the times. As they approached the condo nearing completion, the one farthest up the hill, I could still make out those white tails bobbing and weaving in the setting sun.

I wondered if the sun was setting on those three deer, wondered if they’d make it across New Garden Road, wondered if there was any way civilization’s encroachment into this once-pristine acreage would somehow spare them.

Probably not. It certainly hasn’t spared us.

Progress seems to be moving apace on the five-building, 35-unit condo development that’s destroying Janet’s and my and our neighbors’ little slice of serenity. Also, the heavy equipment moved in last week and started taking down trees on the second condo village that’s going up right behind the one currently under construction. Ironically, it was about the time they started clearing that piece of land that the three deer showed up in our backyard. Suppose there’s a connection?

Yep, the news from out here in Muhlenburg County keeps getting worse and worse. It appears that the six-foot drainage pipe necessitated by the second development that forced the destruction of the 20-foot undisturbed buffer that would have given us at least the illusion of privacy ‘— and wasn’t in the original plans approved by the City Council ‘— will eventually erode the creek bank enough so that the two trees I desperately wanted to keep will have to be taken down. This was the last vestige of buffer, and it will be gone after a few good gullywashers.

There must be a more powerful generation of earthmovers on the market lately. The one that began its carnage last week literally rattles your teeth. I can feel the whole house vibrate once it really gets cranking. It’s a lovely way to wake up each morning. Much better than birds.

And as we reach the critical mass of human inhabitants in the area the Quakers named New Garden three centuries ago, the commercial development will surely follow. The former Jefferson-Pilot property where my wife rode horses as a teenager is now home to five banks, a restaurant and a school. Soon we’ll be graced with a Target store, which will certainly drive traffic to the neighborhood. Yippee.

So, am I supposed to be happy that it’s not a Wal-Mart?

What exactly is there to be happy about? Somebody tell me. Is there some consolation that the housing market in Greensboro seems to be remaining firm? Am I to take solace that we got it written into the rezoning ordinance that the developer has to plant a few Leland cypress trees behind the condo nearest our property? Should I be grateful for the convenience of having a Fresh Market (I hear the one at Quaker Village is moving) within walking distance?

Yeah, walking up the hill to The Fresh Market might be lovely, as we do love to shop there ‘— if my wife could walk. But all she can do is sit there in her wheelchair and look out the bedroom window and watch.

She does get out to the screened-in porch these days, hoping maybe those three deer will frolic by again and she’ll get a glimpse of them. But I’m afraid they’re gone.

Ogi can be reached at, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48.