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(Originally published in On The Natural back in January of 2008 )

I grew up in rural central Indiana in the middle of fields that were planted with corn, peas and soybeans. After my brother and I left home, my parents decided to move for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was the fact that it took a lot of work to keep the three acres of land where we lived in good shape.

They relocated to a housing development closer to town. Now when I go home for Christmas it’s to a much larger house on streets lined with young, weather-beaten saplings. I like to go out walking in the cold air when I’m there. It’s gray, wet and chilly — a pleasant break from the sunshine of Los Angeles, where I’ve lived for the last decade.

The area around their housing development is mostly under construction: Farmland and forest that is being turned into tidy neighborhoods with names forcing awkward connotations of the rustic idyll that they are replacing, e.g Brittany Chase, Hunter’s Glen, Cobblestone Lakes, Corduroy Farms. My walk this year took me past mud fields, drainage ponds inhabited by muskrats and herons; solitary lampposts, dormant construction sites and half-built houses. Some of these will no doubt be completed, while some of the prefabricated mini-mansions will sit empty for years (just waiting for a family of upwardly-mobile exurban squatters, perhaps) as the housing market in central Indiana is not immune to the economic shifts in the larger US real-estate market. These are some of the pictures that I took on my walk on the day after Christmas, learning to use the lovely camera that my mom and dad gave me.

Thanks, as always, to my parents for hosting me over the holidays.

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