Monday, March 12, 2007

Do Si Do

Two related phenomena have caught my eye these last few days:

This morning, I and the boys watched with delight as the Wild World of Annandale unfolded in our back yard. The gorgeous and bright-eyed fox that has taken up residence in our neighborhood had taken down a big wood rat, which it was gnawing on happily just a yard from our downstairs sliding glass doors. It tore away hunks of it's prey, aware of our presence but tolerating us. Finally, it decided that we were just being too nosy, picked up the carcass in it's mouth, and ambled gracefully over to a wooded area behind the house. There, it buried the remains, and then wandered off into the woods.

I grew up in this area, which used to be the outer DC burbs. Now, though, we're considered close-in. The exurbs that now spread for 45 to 50 miles out from the city center are far higher density...big box strip malls and big box churches surrounded by endless treeless expanses of condos, townhomes, and McMansions. With fields and forests falling to development, there's been a counterintuitive migration of animals from the outer suburbs inward. Fifteen years ago, seeing or hearing a fox or a deer in my 'hood would have been something that happened once every few months. Now, it's common. They're far more prevalent, because the inner burbs with their trees and lower density are a far better habitat. For animals, that is.

There's another migration in the other direction. People...those who aren't rich, that is...are having to flee ever outward. Two articles in the Post this last week discussed how immigrant communities which used to populate the inner suburbs are moving ever further outward, as the more convenient and lower density housing moves beyond their reach. Even in the stagnant market, it grows harder and harder for working class folks to live an urban existence. So they need to drive further and further to their jobs, and are more and more dependent on the culture of the car.

Good thing gas is such an increasingly cheap and inexhaustible resource.