Much of my town in England was built with an American design: a street grid system in the town centre was first developed in Victorian times and on the small estate where I live, we all have covenants on our lands that prevents us from enclosing our front gardens with walls or fences.
When my children were growing up here, along with many friends, it gave them an enlarged, joint playground. In the summer, it was common to see mums walking around the road, gathering their own to come home for tea. In the winter, snow made the boundaries even more blurred and perfect for snowballs and snowmen contests. Our front gardens became shared property.
Our own front garden was (and still is) a simple design: a lawn with central bed, a path, and a tarmac drive to the car port. It’s also on a slope. In balmy weather, it became a magnet.
The car port filled with children from 3 to 12 years old and every kind of wheeled toy you can think of: skateboards, scooters, a Cosy Coupe, and ride-on cars and fire engine. Then they took it in turns to race these down our drive into the road. Everything was shared. Little ones propelled themselves with their feet: Older ones leaned back, legs straight out in the air, and let gravity do the work.
Fortunately, it was a quiet, no-through road, with hardly any deliveries or any traffic that wasn’t a resident’s, who all knew to take care for ventures like this. And I often sat on our porch step with a cup of tea to supervise.
I look back on those days with such nostalgia. They have a haze of perfection about them.
All those children have grown now and most moved away. I miss the sunshine of giggles, the gratitude for cold drinks and biscuits, the excitement on their faces from such a simple pleasure, that childlike enjoyment of life.
It doesn’t take much, does it, really?
There are still simple pleasures out there to be enjoyed, if we just look and take some time to indulge our senses and imaginations: the scent of jasmine at night can take us somewhere refreshing, oriental; the warmth of a cup of coffee can fill us with gratitude for memories of shared times; a hug or a text can treasured for the connections they reveal and build.
Or I think there’s an old skateboard still under the car port and the drive still has its slope…
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