There was nothing so invigorating as my daily walks over shady lanes winding around the homes that overlooked Lake Texoma where my mother lived. Occasionally I encountered other walkers. One in particular often greeted me with, “Another day in Paradise.” And indeed it was Paradise for more than one reason. The only “crime” in this tranquil setting was the loud music coming from a radio belonging to construction workers who were building another lakefront house. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this peaceful locale, and especially of my daily walk, was encountering the wildlife that abounded here—the usual birds and squirrels plus deer, armadillos, rabbits, and, occasionally, roadrunners. And no, the roadrunners didn’t say “beep-beep” but they did uncannily resemble Wile E. Coyote’s clever nemesis.
My daily walks followed narrow roadways that twisted and turned with glimpses and views of the lake beyond. I usually followed the main road that formed a figure-eight with several cul-de-sacs branching away. Along the last cul-de-sac that I traversed before returning home, I always passed a dying tree with twisted, gnarled branches. It seemed to be the favorite morning gathering place for a group of large, noisy ravens that would squawk loudly as I passed underneath—almost reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. But I didn’t fear them and usually greeted them with a return squawk of my own. I loved that tree—it was different from all the others that were covered with leaves. This particular cul-de-sac was my favorite part of my walk. I looked forward to greeting those ravens and watching rabbits scurrying about.
Then a tremendous storm blew through one night and the next day I arose, discovering the power was out, and that fourteen utility poles along the road to town had been snapped in two. The next day after the poles had been quickly replaced, I resumed my morning walk. There was devastation everywhere—just like the utility poles, huge trees had come tumbling down, littering the roadways. I had to step carefully. When I reached the last cul-de-sac, I saw that several of the branches from the raven tree had fallen across the road but otherwise the tree was still intact. All was still well with the world.
Clean up began all along the roadway and life resumed as usual in this tiny bit of Paradise that some called home. I greeted the wildlife as I came across it, including my noisy ravens. Then one morning as I turned down that last cul-de-sac, I stopped short. Someone had chopped down the raven tree, leaving a very neatly sawed stump. The terrain and the atmosphere had changed—there was an empty space that would never be filled. My ravens were gone. Maybe they would find another tree nearby, maybe not.
But I missed them and their tree. “Sayeth the Raven, Nevermore.”
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)