Saturday, June 18, 2011

Farther Horizons: When Will They Yearn Past Our Fences?

Sitting in my back yard, watching my two boys play catch, the summer heat begins to make itself known, even at 7:45 in the morning. The heat has been monumental lately, hitting 100 degrees and beyond, day after day, and we’re only in mid June.

There’s a nice breeze, though, and it’s a bit on the cloudy side, so that it feels good to be out here with my two little progenies, playing, talking, laughing – the sounds of wind chimes, air conditioners, birds and dogs punctuating our interactions.

This is one of the reasons we moved from Brooklyn – to give our kids more access to the outdoors, and I’m glad of that. This is not to say, however, that Brooklyn had any lack of green space. In fact, we were blessed to have found a coop just half a block away from Prospect Park, one of the world’s loveliest. But with big city parks comes an element of unpredictability and danger, so that having children cannot help but bring that fear up for a parent.

Parks here are so much more sparsely peopled; even Zilker, at its most crowded, feels less packed than Prospect, or Central, do.

I don’t mean to sound like one of those crazies who are afraid of people, nor would I want to expose my children to that kind of thinking. But the reality is that New York is densely populated, and its mental health facilities are too few. As a result, one has to be aware, at all times, of who’s around. This is probably true at Zilker, too, but not like the New York parks – not to the same extent.

Certainly the back yard is a nice, if tiny, alternative, allowing the kids to be outside in the summer sun, playing with their toys and having a good time.

I wonder when the time will come that Jackson and Diego decide they can no longer be contained by our fences. It’s inevitable; I still recall how much I loved our back yard on Hartford Lane and how exciting it felt to burrow under our back fence and into the Hartford Woods.

Our fences have nothing on the other side of them but other yards here in Manor. I can imagine a day when my kids decide to get on their bikes and venture into the Shadowglenn golf course, at which point we get a call from Diego, who is being detained by the groundskeeper.

Or driving along Route 290 and noticing my children walking or riding along the side. Our yard can only contain them for so long. Soon they will be looking for farther horizons.


  1. Dan, I feel the same way about city parks these days. My brother is 12 years old and going to the park with his friends rather than an adult now.
    Having lived in Vermont these past few years, a big part of me tells me he needs to be outdoors as much as possible, but then I watch the news and see that a 15 year old girl was killed by a stray bullet just a few blocks away from my home. It's a struggle--I love NY, but it is dangerous, yet he cannot live within four walls.
    I enjoy reading your posts about your children growing up! Thank you for sharing=).

  2. Thanks for the comment, Nia. Always great to hear your point of view. I look forward to your next post, and have your blog bookmarked, by the way!

  3. Aw thanks Dan! I actually started a new summer blog a few days ago, I've only got one post so far, but I'm hoping to have more writing time throughout the summer!

    it's:, when you have time!