For years I have watched chipmunks leap and scurry around my deck. It was an old deck, wooden with nails and boards, nothing modern. It was there when we bought the house and I cared for it for years. I painted it, scrubbed it, fussed when there was algae on it, and bought the potion du jour to keep it in trim every year.

Time marched on and the deck became too craggy to really keep up with. The paint rubbed off, nails lifted up, parts of it would fall off in small increments. It was obvious that something had to be done to fix it but I was reluctant. Why? There was so much wildlife in and around it. It seemed like a sanctuary for lizards, chipmunks, and the occasional and harmless garter snake.

Alas, the time came when one of the boards became recurved and was obviously not going to resume it’s old benign shape. Nails popped out and other boards split. It was time to get rid of it and put in something else.

The men came yesterday to tear it up so they could put in a new patio. I watched as they pulled out the boards and nails of the old one which had sheltered countless small animals from summer heat and winter cold. I was expecting to see a warren of holes, nests, seed shells and wazzles of old hair from nests. I thought I would find a set of highways and hollows that would make everyone stop and stare. What I found was nothing. Nothing at all was left from all the creatures which had trod under the boards. You would never have known that there had been anything at all under the deck ever. No chipmunk metropolis, ant capitals, or lizard-dromes.

Maybe this shows you how gently the animal kingdom treats the earth, maybe this shows you that I was too fascinated with what I saw which was actually much more sparse than in other areas. I can only say I was a bit shocked and disappointed to find that there was only flat sand to be seen, and I felt a bit like Robert Burns but without disturbing a mouse’s home.

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