Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mayberry moment

Tonight after dinner Jo and I went out to play. We heard music coming from the park across the street, so we wandered over. Turns out it was the weekly community band concert, complete with show tunes, a Norwegian march, and the state university fight song (Go Badgers!). Is that classic or what? We watched and listened until bedtime.

We’re so lucky to have this park right outside our front door, and another one, complete with man-made sledding hill, just two blocks from our back door. Lately I’ve been worrying about parks and other communal spaces. Drive by any upscale subdivision and you’ll see that every yard has its own swingset. (And here I have to disclose that after two years of persuasion, I finally gave in to my husband’s wish to buy one for our yard too; so everything that follows is frankly hypocritical.) If every family has its own swingset, what’s the point of the neighborhood playground? Will anyone go there anymore? And if no one does, how will kids meet other kids, and moms meet other moms?

I realize I sound like a crotchety old man talking about how “in my day, we didn’t have ‘playdates,’ we just went outside and played!” But it’s true, isn’t it? I think it’s sad that our homes and yards and cars keep getting bigger and bigger, while our public spaces lose value (or move into the computer, but that’s a whole ‘nother post). I hope I can help my kids see that libraries and city pools and farmer’s markets and playgrounds are part of what makes a place liveable, a community that means something and gives something to every resident.

Maybe I should start a commune, what with the waxing rhapsodic about togetherness. Who’s with me?


Jamie said...

I'm in! My husband finally "broke down" and put up a toddler swing (which our 4-year-old has outgrown but the 16-month old loves) two years ago. We have a neighborhood park about two blocks from us AND they are completely redoing it. Yee haw! But I agree, people are becoming more isolated. We need togetherness man. And your neighborhood sounds heavenly.

mothergoosemouse said...

Funny you should mention this - on my walks around the neighborhood, I have marveled at the open space that has been preserved. There's space that is pure prairie, and there's space that is acres of green grass. There's also multiple individual playgrounds spread through the neighborhood, as well as a big one adjacent to the pool and tennis courts. I even discovered a picnic area and sand volleyball courts. We may live on a lot the size of a postage stamp, but right next to us is an open common area where the girls can play (and lots of kids already do). More and more, I'm glad we chose this neighborhood over the one with the bigger lots and no playgrounds.