OK, OK. So I cheated. A little.
The Round Robin challenge last time was Backyard Photography. I tried to use the back yard, I really did, but five minutes into the project the tears started falling, so I left. Tammie Jean included a loophole of sorts with the "or a local park" phrase, so I went with the commons area out front. Sorry if I ticked anyone off.
Here's the long, sad story: We live on city-size lots in a suburb. However, this development was carved out of the private estate of someone who loved, collected, and preserved trees, and the developer saved every one he possibly could. We're talking oaks a hundred to two hundred years old, rare shag bark hickories, mature maples -- ancient, hardwood forest. I was in love with every one of them.
When we moved here almost twenty years ago, the yards were so heavily wooded that we could barely see the houses immediately around us. Being in the back yard was like going camping. It was secluded, cool, infinitely relaxing. There were mossy stones and a dozen varieties of wild flowers; we had lady slipper, jack in the pulpit, trout lilies, and violets in purple and white. A dense ground cover filled the shallow valley that runs between the properties in back. It bloomed yellow in spring, a wide golden river meandering off into the shadowy woods. Squirrels raised families here, chipmunks sunned on the deck railing. There were baby rabbits in the spring, and gardening turned up the occasional turtle and toad. Native songbirds jostled for a turn at the feeders. To me, it was paradise.
Over time, we inevitably lost trees to age, disease and storms. A tornado came through a few years ago and took down many more. Sad as that was, I could reconcile myself to it as nature's way. But in the last two years, new neighbors have moved in behind and to the side of us, and between them they have taken down at least 40 trees, great and small. They cut off all the low branches on the few survivors, branches that formed the deep green views from my windows; I can now see into neighbors' rooms, and I assume they can look into mine. They poisoned all the wildflowers, dug up the ground cover, and rolled out plain, green sod penned in by new split rail fences. The forest is gone, the wildlife has fled, and there is no privacy whatsoever.
I can't tell you how deeply it has hurt me to see those grand old trees dying and not to be able to do a thing about it. It has literally sickened me to wake to the sound of chain saws and wood chippers, to fly to the window to see which ones are being killed this time ... to feel the house shake as massive sections of trunks fall to the ground ... to know that it's all being taken away forever. On those days, I have to leave the house, or I'll spend the whole day bawling like a baby. It is more despair and powerlessness and grief than I can bear.
So. That's why I can't photograph my back yard. It just hurts too much to look at it.