Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Neighborhood Park

Do you have one? Oh, most of us living in urban or suburban areas have parks we can drive to, but do you have a park within walking distance? Is it a big park or a small park? A quiet park or a noisy park?

Technically, we have two parks within easy walking distance (and a few within an acceptable biking distance). Lately I have fallen in love with our closest park. Actually, the park is in little pockets here and there; the area between the library and the Lincoln Shrine, the grass alongside the outdoor amphitheater, a small corner near the old city hall, and the "big" part of the park, which has restrooms, tables, shuffleboard courts, and a lawn bowling court (yep, lawn bowling . . . and it's not our only park with a lawn bowling court, either).

Our park is a quiet park, probably because it is small and because it doesn't have playground equipment. In fact, while I loved the park before I had children, I pretty much gave up on it when my boys were younger. But now it is perfect. They can run, play tag, toss a ball, and generally goof off. We can sit on a blanket in the shade and read out loud. There are only a few squirrels, so the Girl Dog doesn't go berserk barking.

A park you can walk to is a treasure. We are there in 7 minutes. We can spend an hour at the park and it barely makes a dent in the day (except that the time spent at the park feels so wonderful that it colors the day in a happy way). We can tack a walk on before or after.

We have lots of parks, and they all have their own vibe. The oldest park in the city is big, and has a busy, multicultural feeling to it. We can play on the playground, or we can walk a hundred yards away and play in the creek bed and forget that the big plastic play structure is even there. Another park is definitely the kind of suburban park that parents of preschoolers like to hang out at. There is a park that make me a little nervous, even with the Girl Dog. And there are even more parks than that.

I am in awe of really big urban parks, but all I really need is my little neighborhood park.

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