I hope my friends have gathered by now that I can be relied upon to offer cheer, in (roughly) equal measure to the heavy stuff (and neither, trivially). This is an example of recent wonderful achievement so nearby that we could almost take it for granted – but that would be a real injustice.
And this too should go in the consideration-hopper, next time we feel inclined to say something meaninglessly-general like “The government can’t ever do anything right!” (Very rarely said, incidentally, by someone who has just had their life saved by it!)
Please note – like I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t like to be the creepy old weirdo, so I’d never take a photo of the place when it was full of kids – I got this one when it had been raining all day long – the only time this place is ever empty (and even then, they’ll wait-out a fairly long storm, to return to the available fun).
First off, this is a big free play-space – there is a splash pad behind here, and more active water features to the right, along with a nice paved path for trikes to cruise and new two-wheelers to practise turns and stops very safely, a double tennis-court, newly rebuilt washroom and shaded sitting area, and all of this at the far end of a modest-sized park, that nevertheless also houses a well-used baseball diamond and tiny but pretty community garden (along with the inevitable complement of towel-anchored tanners and sunlight-readers).
Now when I say water features, I don’t just mean some dull brass spout in the ground – one of the things that’s really neat about this park is that they troubled to make it cool and beautiful – recognizing that children benefit from such stimulus, if anything, even more than we adults do!
The iridescence of this high-mounted cold-shower-spraying dragonfly cannot be overstated – and the way it slow-cycles with the other features, so it inevitably surprises someone, even though they were waiting for it, means that as long as kids are in the park, squeals and giggles are frequent.
The frog-jets mounted in a circle also go on and off – and kids love playing around this whole area in the hot summer, constantly being cooled-off (and semi-shaded the whole time, by a nice, but not too thick screen of trees.
Not only that, but the giant willow tree in the middle of this playground was saved by the children themselves, in a successful campaign (an override of the original plans, that has definitely improved them greatly) – which means the place also serves, for that one generation at least, as a political affirmation of citizen-power!
Photo credit: Catherine Barnes
The playground’s creators were even awesome enough to think of fun equipment for crazy kids like me – way in the back, behind a hill, some trees and very pleasant picnic benches, near the overgrown fence just next to the subway yards, they installed a very nifty toy to keep the demented musicians occupied and out of trouble for awhile, far enough away from the kids for their aggressive dissonance-seeking, and alternative modulation strategies to leave no permanent scars on their delicate and impressionable psyches. ;o)
Oh, and as an honest observer first and foremost (writers creed) I really am bound to note that while this magical place truly does delight the rich and poor kids in the area equally, and encourages them all to enjoy together (everything free, means no privilege attaches to extra means, only extra social-skill), is indeed very pretty to behold, and soundly engineered as well, there is one thing that it’s planners missed – about which anyone who remembers childhood might have warned them.
The absolute most popular feature in the entire park? (Attended with constant laughing delight at all hours of the day, by highly focussed youngsters)…
…go back and look at the top photo – see that little channel in the foreground? Well, the truth of the matter is that the absolute most popular feature of the entire park is the dull industrial storm-drain at it’s end! ;o)
Hey, I get-it. Back in my own kindergarten days, they could never get me away from playing boats (with anything that would float) at the ever popular ‘water-table.’ Maybe for a handful of arrowroots – maybe.