I was born in the city and raised in a rowhouse. My backyard was three squares of cement and one square of pear tree, bordered with a flowerbed. Every year, my parents would plant pansies, violets, and various seed mixes to brighten up the patch. From days of planting, among other experiences, I grew into a love of nature.
When I turned 10, my mother moved out of the city, straight into suburbia. All I knew about the suburbs was the classic 1950s picture – manicured lawns all leading up to identical ranch houses. Unfortunately, that characterization wasn’t far off.
My neighbor mowed his lawn every single day. He did so neatly, so there were criss-cross lines through the grass, making a pattern. It looked nice, but he never set foot on it. With a yard like a field, how could he not just stand in the middle, barefoot, and curl his toes, pressing into the clean nature of the land?
I spent four years surrounded by nature in the suburbs – there were woods, streams, large grassy yards – but noticing that many of the people around me didn’t see any of it and seemed to take it for granted. Perhaps my background, coming from a place largely deprived of clean grassy fields with open blue skies to revel in, somehow forced the belief that we should enjoy and participate in nature, rather than shy away from it and beat it back with pesticides.
Now I live in the middle of the city again, and I know I’m lucky to have a park bursting with greenness and nature just two blocks away. I try to visit as much as I can, and each time, to sprawl out on the grassy regions in between paths, because I believe that grass should be walked on and fully enjoyed.
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