Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Greens

This was taken the same time as the earlier photo of Richard and me playing, with Richard holding a stick in his mouth. My mom, dad, Richard ("Dickie" then) and I went to Rockcliffe Park. It's an actual park, as you can see, and also a swanky neighborhood filled with the homes of the rich and the ambassadorial class. We lived on Rideau Terrace, east of Springfield, which was a dividing line between it and our neighborhood -- New Edinburgh. The layout of the neighborhoods was such that within short walking distance you could be in a working class area, for example Vanier, or the area around Crichton Street (where Richard and I went to school) or up in the enclaves of Rockcliffe, with its grand homes and trees everywhere.

Rockcliffe Park actually seemed to be several parks, all kind of interconnected: there was the Governor General's ground, some bush, Rockliffe Park itself, a tree-lined driveway that led to another park, the Rockeries, and then Mile Circle and Manor Park (the last not being a park at all but a neighborhood where Richard, Mom and I lived after my parents split).

It had a nice but slightly weird effect on me being surrounded by so much greenery while still in a city. When I learned how to bike I was pretty much everywhere, and expanded my stomping (pedaling) grounds until I knew the whole area well. I thought every city was more or less like this -- swank neighborhoods, middle-class neighborhoods, tough neighborhoods, but all of it linked up by long stretches of green.

This section of Ottawa still has the same essential lay-out -- but a lot of that green has been developed. For example, directly across from our house on Rideau Terrace, there was an acre or so of land we called "the bush". It wasn't a park -- it wasn't anything. It was just what it sounded like: a wild outgrowth of trees and brush. This is where we usually played. It stayed that way for so many years that I assumed it always would. I had no concept of zoning. But it wasn't zoned as parkland, it wasn't zoned as anything, I guess. It's all townhouses now.

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