This ecologically devastating project, named "Wethersfield," would never be allowed in our more sensitive era. The developers tore out all the trees and leveled a hill to an acceptable grade (though the driveway of our house was always at a noticeable slant). They went into the sandy, rocky glacial soil of New England and built homesites on poured concrete slabs. These houses didn't have any basements. My father is standing where the slab is going to go. If you look carefully at the dirt plain, you can see little markers on rods marking out where each house will be.
The artificial prairie of our lots attracted unusual birds and wildlife. For a couple of years, horned larks built their ground-nests in this environment. These larks usually breed in the Arctic tundra. The developers planted tiny saplings by the open streets, hoping that the trees would survive and be a good habitat.
The tundra didn't last. Once people were there, they loaded in landscaping, extra buildings, more tree saplings, and flowerbeds. Nature did the rest. Native trees and plants re-colonized the clear areas, marching in from protected swampland. By the early 1960s, there were already shadows on the ground. By the late 60s, open meadow habitat birds had gone and forest birds like nuthatches had re-appeared.
Nowadays you would not believe that this development had once been a clear-cut space of imitation tundra. It looks like a New England forest, shaded by grand maples (the little saplings of 1955) and tall white pines and spruces and yellow poplars. The flat houses which were built in an echo of the "Prairie" style have mostly been replaced by two-story comfort zones. And the home that would occupy the place my father is standing, has been re-built as well, surrounded by the remains here and there of the old mid-20th century settlement.
March 16, 2018