Spring must be here even if it did attempt to blizzard again last Friday and Saturday. Why do I say that? Well, when Molly and I were out walking in the park today, I saw my first winged insect of the season. That is a pretty sure sign of the arrival of Spring in the local area. It wasn't much of an insect as such beasties go, but it was a sign the the masses will be appearing shortly. I could have taken the cognitive leap last week and trusted that the fly I spotted buzzing the sink in the house was a harbinger of Spring, but I worried that it was a false positive since it was still snowing and blowing outside at the time. Fruit flies and other such annoyances seem to hatch out occasionally in the temperate climate indoors. But the bug that flew off today was clearly an outdoor bug.
So with the winds blowing and the temperatures back into the 60s after the attempt to join Denver and environs in the cold and snowy blizzard, a lot of people were out in the park. Molly got a chance to sniff and whine at an incredible number of dogs. Not only that, but there were a ton of kids out in the park doing everything from playing football and catch to attempting to fly kites. The winds were a bit too shifty for good kite flying, but the kids were trying anyway.
Last Friday was the official Arbor Day celebration here in town. Since the city has been a tree city USA winner for the past 21 straight years, you can count on the mayor being out to plant a tree for every Arbor Day. (Part of the criteria for being a tree city is that the forrester has to get printed publicity about trees in the local media every year. So that usually devolves to sending in the picture from the papers with the mayor planting away.) Given how miserable the weather was here on Friday, there were only a couple of us in attendance at one of the city parks to plant the Elm cultivar. In only 50 or 60 years, it will be big enough to replace some of the beautiful trees we have lost over the last decade to Dutch Elm Disease.
The planting was in a park about a block from where I grew up. Other than the restroom and an old non-working cement water fountain, there isn't a part of the park that is the same today as it was when I was growing up. The playground equipment has been replaced twice and is currently being replaced for the third time. The merry-go-round and teeter-totters have gone the way of the dokey bird in the mania of litigation fears and ADA accessibility. Even the swings and play sets no longer have sand under them, but have a special wood fiber product called Fibar that is both injury reductive and ADA approved.
Our town is rare in that we are small, rural, and have a lot of parks. Our four largest parks range from 40 acres down to 3 acres. Then we have a half dozen to dozen minor parks that range from a fraction of an acre to a couple of acres. The overall goal is to have every household be within walking distance (with toddlers) of a park. We succeed in general, but there are some areas where we don't have all the parks we would like.
I will close by asking what the park situation in your area is like? Do you have easy access to parks and facilities in the parks? How about tennis and basketball courts? Walking paths and nature trails? If not, why not?