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The Mabley Archive Leaving home, and the comfort of Glenview's acreage and wildlife.

Byline: Jack Mabley June 30, 2002 Glenview's own

A benefit of suburban life that many of us take for granted is nice front yards and backyards at single-family homes.

You can drive mile after mile in our settled suburban neighborhoods and experience something like a botanical garden.

Lots in the older suburbs are a quarter- or a third- or a half-acre, and sometimes larger. The homes were built when land was relatively cheap. These observations are prompted by a drive through a new subdivision on the site of the Glenview Naval Air Station.

The land is very expensive. Hundreds of new homes in the $750,000 range sit side by side on lots with tiny front yards and tiny backyards and no side yards.

I think you could mow front and back with a push mower in 15 minutes. I also suspect most will hire a lawn service so they can have more time to ride a cart around a golf course.

It's a tradeoff for the home buyer. The closer to the big city, the smaller the lot. The farther from the city, the more land you get for your money.

The readers who choose to live in apartments are likely amused by this discussion. My wife and I will be joining the apartment dwellers next year. But I am really going to miss my acre.

I will not miss most of the wildlife that has competed with me for rights to our land and things that grow on it.

We live in a built-up residential neighborhood. The nearest forest preserve or park is two miles away.

Yet animal life thrives. There is a resident fox that produced three babies. One raccoon had babies born in our chimney (which now is capped).

Deer still eat our tomatoes. Chipmunks burrow under our terrace. A coyote once strolled through the yard.

Our ugly possum doesn't damage anything, I think.

I used to have 25 producing fruit trees and a huge garden that featured raspberries and strawberries. The squirrels and birds and other beasts ate so much of our fruit I finally gave up.

Two weeks ago, a new little beast showed up. A groundhog got into a not-excavated part of the house and proceeded to excavate it. This little hairy animal, a cross between a beaver and a rat, somehow pushed out dirt that filled 10 loads of a wheelbarrow I used to carry it away.

The village animal control officer would come if the animal got in the basement or attic, but for a crawl space we had to call a private company. It cost me $140 to get rid of Mister Groundhog.

That I won't miss in our next abode.

I have been very fortunate. I grew up in the city with all its advantages, particularly vacant lots for all our games and battles and sneaked cigarettes.

Since I started working for a living, I have lived in the suburbs and worked in the city for 50 years. It has been a beautiful arrangement.

In recent years, many suburbanites have moved back into Chicago as their kids left home, and an empty nest in a high-rise near the Loop was more appealing than an empty eight-room nest with a yard to maintain.

Most of us seem to find what fits us best. A curse we share with the big city is traffic gridlock. It is awful in Chicago and getting worse in the suburbs.

It's not too bad on the North Shore because the shore towns have run out of space to grow. But who can afford to build where an empty acre goes for half a million dollars?

Basically, we co-exist reasonably with Chicago Mayor Rich Daley's domain.
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Author:Jack Mabley June 30, 2002 Glenview's own
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Nov 19, 2020
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