Thursday, May 14, 2009

Like Riding Through A Ghost Town...


Wednesday, I had to go to VA for my monthly blood test.

I like to leave about 11:30 or 12:00 in order to beat the traffic. It's just at 20 miles one way, and although most of the trip is on the toll road, I do have to go through several neighborhoods to get to the Beltway.

As I was driving down the streets, I started really looking at all the houses and their yards...I mean really looking! There was no one around. No one at all!

In the two neighborhoods closest to where I live, the only people I ever saw in the front yards were the lawn guys. They were there with their mowers and trimmers and leaf blowers, doing everything they could to make all the empty front lawns pretty.

Imagine, all those empty lawns just sitting there pretty much looking like the lawn next door. Occasionally, there would be a lawn where someone had decided to dress up a bit with flowers and shrubs just as though the owner was voicing some discontent with looking just like everyone else! Imagine that...a real live individual! Well, almost!

What was missing? Mainly, the kids and signs of kids were missing! No toys, no swing sets, no wagons or bikes or kick balls or basketballs or anything like that! Just grass. Trimmed and watered and looking all pretty just like the neighbors grass, but no life! The whole neighborhood could have just been a movie set, with card board houses and artificial grass. It was as if all the people had packed up and left, ya know?

From the time I was a kid, the front yards were centers of activity, especially for kids. In fact, my house was on a corner lot in one neighborhood. We had two china berry trees in the yard, and we took full advantage of those two trees. We climbed them, used the broken limbs for other toys like guns and swords, used the berries themselves as throwing weapons, missiles hard enough to sting but not injure.

Our yard was played in, not just by us, but all our friends in the neighborhood as well. There were paths worn in it to the garden hose, to the front porch, and to the trees. It wasn't all that big, but it looked bigger than the neighbors yard because it had life! It had soul! It had kids, for goodness sake! Complete with all the trappings of kids playing outside! Even if we were somewhere else, you could tell that kids lived there.

The one thing that our yard didn't have much of, was grass! I remember once someone asked my Dad why he didn't plant some grass in the yard and have us play somewhere else, Dad answered "There will be plenty of time for grass and a pretty yard when the kids are gone. Right now, what matters the most is that they are enjoying the yard and their home...and that the most important thing to me!" Did I mention that both my parents knew what was really important?

If nothing else, I should get my neighbors to let me put in a garden in all those empty yards. Think of all the food I could grow in just two or three more yards! Man, I could feed a small army!

Oh, wait! I forgot one thing...the yard wouldn't look just like the next door neighbor's yard. It wouldn't be just sitting there, all watered and trimmed and pretty. It wouldn't look like an artificial, movie set neighborhood yard anymore...it would look different, it would have a look of life! What a monumental waste!

Well, why don't we get some fresh coffee and sit on the patio for a bit. We can watch the birds at the feeder and then at the bird bath, having a good time. If we get bored with that, we can always just sit here and watch the garden grow. Great way to spend the morning...!

30 comments:

Ken said...

...nope,no denying that a few young'uns live here...trampoline,bikes,toys of every flavor,tree swing,the works...oldest daughter graduates on the 22nd,middle girl is 15,the boy is youngest at 8...i've got all bases covered,like ya said,the yard is for the kids...

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
that's exactly what my folks said and how they felt. To me, that's what gives a house character, what turns a house into a home.

Hey, thanks for coming by tis morning, Ken.

Rod said...

By the time our boys started high school and all those activities our yard had holes dug in it in search of treasures of it was a fort. They had a club house and the works. But now like you said you do not see that but if you went inside I bet you would find many video games!
Good observation.

Rod

Sue said...

Great post, Jim. When I was growing up, we left the house by 7 a.m., and didn't come back in until supper. Our neighborhood was loud-the shrieks of laughter, the crack of baseball bats, basketballs bouncing, bicycles with cards attached to the spokes (just to make more noise!). It was wonderful.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rod...
One thing about a yard like that, it holds a lot of memories. The holes, the forts,, the old clubhouse...man, those were the days!

Sad that so many kids growing up now days don't have much of that!

My folks usually had to dragf us in at night!

Thanks or coming by...

HermitJim said...

Hey Sue...
I had almost forgotten about the playing card motorgygle sounds makers...

I was mentioning to the nephew just tonight how no happy sounds could be heard in the neighborhood in the evening any more.

Guess I'm just getting old...

Thanks for the visit, Sue!

TEAM HALL said...

Morning to yah Jim! When I grew up I knew everyone within striking distance of my house. Today, we don't know who lives next door, let alone across the street and down the next street. It's a different world we live in now...and frankly I'm scared to have my two little China Princesses in the front yard. The weirdos are everywhere Jim and they're bold nowadays! They wouldn't think twice about snatching kids right out from under our noses!! So, my front yard is just flowers and trees like everyone else's. However, the back yard looks like a bloody theme park! lol
Have a great day, Jim!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe empty yards are a Texas thing, the heat during the summer certainly must be a factor. But I understand the sentiment, walking around the neighborhood, all you hear are air conditioner units working, as well as a few vicious barks from the the resident canine (Attaboy - earn that Kennelration!).

We have a city park in front of our house though, and afternoons see plenty of Americana going on. And when dusk occurs, the yards gain some attention, neighbors catching up on the latest news or scandel.

JoJo said...

Good morning Jim,
How about hop scotch, we climbed trees and had lots of fun and yes always outside. But like team hall said they will snatch the kids right out of the front yard. We had some crazy trying to lift someone's kid over their frenced front yard. The mother came out just in time.
Ok things are depressing enough right now lets do sit out and watch the birds and flowers.

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

The entire neighborhood knows who we are - and the names of all my kids - because I'm the only mom that lets their kids play in the front yard or ride bikes up and down the street - and then I have to holler at them to come home! LOL We live in a very quiet, dirt road subdivision. Only 6 families out of 80ish have kids. Everyone else is retired. Guess where people stop to chat? Yup, in our front yard. I couldn't tell you what's on tv at night because we're outside all the time. :D I, too, look at yards and envision all that I could grow too. Amazing isn't it?

Anonymous said...

You're so right! Kids need to get out and get dirty to be physically, psychologically, and emotionally healthy.
Here in Minnesota it's been all the rage for about 30 years to build new houses to look the same with the same front yard design. Just a different color vinyl (faux wood) siding on the houses. The backyards have chain-link fences to keep the kids imprisoned with their made-in-china swingset and plastic sandbox that is so full of made-in-china toys that you can't see the sand. What a horrible existence for the kids. It's no wonder why they would rather play nintendo.
Harmon Killebrew, in his hall of fame induction speech, said that his mother once complained to his dad about him and his brothers wearing out the lawn playing sports. His dad told her they were raising boys, not grass.

HermitJim said...

Hey Cath...
Yes, it's a shame but of course, you're right. The weird ones are all around us and indeed are bolder everyday!

Sad that so many are held hostage by so ferw, but we do what we must to protect our family!

Thanks for coming by, my friend...


Hey Anon 8:52...
That sounds like the way our parks used to be. Not many people use them anymore, at least around my neighborhood. I think I see more adults in the parks than kids...

Neighbors don't get together much in this neighborhood like they used to, but there is such a turn over.

Hey, thanks for the visit...


Hey JoJo...
you're right, my friend! I shouldn't have been writing about anything that would add to the depression, but I was really only pointing out the sad points of living in the city!

Now that you're here to sit with me on the patio, I feel much happier...so let's sit and grin together!


Hey Melissa...
Sounds like a nice neighborhood and the fact that many will stop and chat at your yard says to me that even the neighbors feel comfortable there.

Maybe they are like me, just remembering how it use to be a long time ago!

I'm really glad you came by today, melissa, I appreciate it...

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 9:33...
Now that's a quote I really like! Raising boys, not grass! Just gotta love that!

I think I'm too old to live in the city anymore...everyday brings a little saddness when I look at something and remember how things were so much more enjoyable to me in my day!

I really appreciate the visit, my friend!

Did it MY way said...

Morning JIm;
Perhaps it's time for a trip to the desert. I loved the old days to-perhaps we are getting older?
Check out "The field Lab"
55 in the am, and 110 by noon, and no water to fish in.

HermitJim said...

Hey Tony...
Guess you're right, my friend. Glad we both have a bit of land to escape to...

Looking forward to getting out of this City for sure...

Thanks for coming by, buddy!

Dafthermit said...

Hi Jim


finally got over to say hi

my wee dial up was nearly melting don't know if its all the email or this amazing sunny weather we are having in the highlands

like you i am glad we live in the mountains with some true nature and very few signs of manacure around

all the best my friend

from

the dafthermits in the mountains

HermitJim said...

Hey Hermit...
And iot's a good place you're in indeed! Would that I could join ya for a wee bit.

If you ever make it state side, we'll have to get together and share a cup!

Dafthermit said...

it would be a pleasure to share a cup with you on the porch

take care

Ashley said...

Perhaps the children were in school? But yeah, I know what you mean with the Stepford Yards. What I hate is that these days it's becoming difficult to do anything, because of all the deed restrictions. It's almost impossible to do anything that gives your house any individuality. I have a friend who was told by an "home owner's association" that she had to paint the inside of her garage a different color! I have to get out of here.

Hugs,
Ashley

HermitJim said...

Hey Ashley...
At least you have a bit of land you can work from, garden on, and control. That's more than many folks now days, but many would not want to live there even if they had a place, ya know?

Baby Sis said...

Hey Bubba, those were great trees, weren't they? And the sliver leaf maple was just about right for second base, just before the driveway. Hopscotch on the sidewalk, and watching through the screen door for the mailman to come so you could be the one to give him a drink of cold water...forts and playhouses of leaves from those chinaberry trees - good old days for sure.......

Phelan said...

There are very few children in my area. My yard is full of toys, kids and cows. When people started talking about turning their lawns into gardens, I couldn't stand it, where would my kids play? You mean you want them in the house!?!

Maybe you can grab a list of edible flowers from my blog, and ask neighbors if you can plant them? Then at least they would have pretty flowers, and you would have a plehera of food stuff.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sis...
Seems to me like we never went long without something to do! Inside or out, we always managed to make our own fun a LOT!

Come to think about it, I guess we still do that to some extent!

Good to have you come by this morning...


Hery Phelan...
Your yard is one of those that is being used for living, and i think that's a good thing.

I loved the post about the edible flowers this morning...it will come in handy!

Thanks for taking the time to drop in, my friend! Always a pleasure!

Meadowlark said...

We have no "little ones" anymore, but we do notice we're the only ones who sit in the front yard or BBQ in front (we're weird that way). Don't have the link handy, but "FREE RANGE KIDS" is a great site about letting kids be kids again. I doubt many will listen, sadly. :(

HermitJim said...

Hey Meadowlark...
Indeed it's sad when you sit in the front yard and don't see anyone else around enjoying themselves.

I guess our "normal" is other people's "weird"...so be it!

I'll have to look up the website you mentioned...and I thank you for pointing me in that direction. Thanks also for stopping by today...

Ginger said...

It's my dogs, these days, that keep the grass down to the nub. I remember our giant china berry tree fondly. It was in the backyard. I climbed it almost daily. A few times, my big brother had to rescue me because I climbed too high and couldn't get down. I used china berry "bouquets" for pretend weddings. And a ladder propped up the front of it was the aisle to walk down. Sadly, that big beautiful tree was struck by lightning. It did make a pretty cool fort, though - the part that landed on the ground and didn't burn up. Thanks Jim, once again, for some great memories. Your Dad sounds like he was a winner.

HermitJim said...

Hey Ginger...
Good to see you again! I've been missing ya, my friend! Isn't it fummy how so many of us have very similar memories? I guess that those special trees and siblings have done what they were put here to do...to help make fond memories for us to enjoy!

I have to say that both my parents were of the same mind set. Dad always seemed to me like a fried pie...kinda hard and crusty looking on the outside, but a sweet old softy on the inside.

Hey, girl...I sure appreciate you dropping by today!

Carol Ayers said...

Gosh, Jim..I just got chills reading your post! It's kinda scarey, huh? How much the world has changed in our time! Yeh, all the video games for the kids and worry if they'd be kidnapped from the yard or even worse....oh boy! What a world we live in! Makes me feel even more blessed to be living up here on this mountain!
Well...slurp....thanks, I'll have a warmup...maybe just a splash o that Hennesy too.

Stephanie in AR said...

wasn't there a song that described such a neighborhood? "they're all made of ticky-tacky and they all look the same"

We ended up as the neighborhood gathering place in our old neighborhood. Even the crancky old lady liked to look out at the kids playing in the frontyard. The neighborhood kids liked to take our then baby out to play - very few had more than one sibling. After we moved the neighor said it was very quiet.

Beside associations there are neighbors who call police about bouncing balls or child services for unsupervised children - neglected if mom isn't within 10 ft. Sometimes modern parents don't have much of a choice. or a chance.

HermitJim said...

Hey Carol...
It is indeed a scary place in the city to try and raise kids anymore. The age of innocence is truly gone, I'm afraid!

Coffee with a boost coming up. We can drink to country living...


Hey Stephanie...
Some people just can't stand it when kids are enjoying themselves. That is so sad...

Your house sounds a lot like mine when I was growing up. Must have been a fun place to be around.

Thanks for the visit!