Sometimes—even though...or because...I live in a city—I feel very trapped by my surroundings. Stranded, even. It's a very frustrating feeling for me. But there's just really no where to...go...not without driving. And driving is...fine...but, we also all know how I feel about driving (A—I don't enjoy it and B—I think our society's dependence on cars is morally wrong).
The closest place to walk to is a full mile away (it's a church on a busy street). If we want to actually walk somewhere to, like, hang out...it's more like two miles.
I learned this on Monday when I proposed that we walk to the park because it was "only" a mile. But, guys, my brain just got so excited when it saw the 1 that it neglected to absorb the .9 that followed it.
And so it happened that I took my kids for a four-mile walk on Monday. They did great, but it was a little farther than we bargained for. And not at all doable every day...not that we're not physically capable...but time-wise I don't think our schedule can handle an outing of that duration.
Here's Phoebe, so happy to be out of her stroller and running around:
I just find myself craving some small-town distances every now and again (see also: many of the European and/or Middle Eastern cities I've either lived in or visited, where stores and public spaces are mingled with dwellings rather than having a vast sea of personal dwellings (and associated dearth of public spaces)).
In High River, my house was a 5 minute walk from a lake (a seven minute walk to two lakes). The school—where we did gymnastics—and the playground—which we would use after hours—was a five minute walk from our house.
True, there were really no grocery stores when we first moved there. But soon a grocery store was built just a ten minute walk from our house.
The high school was a 15 minute walk from our house. The middle school—25 minutes.
The Recs Plex was also 25 minutes with the pool, the ice rink, etc.
The church building? Now that was a 45 minute walk from our house (the same distance I made the kids walk on Monday), but we lived about as far away from the church as was possible. Like, we were on the outskirts on one side of town and the church building was on the outskirts on the other side of town.
That means that pretty much anything was closer than that. Movie theater? 30 minute walk. The big town park by the river? Also about a half hour.
My point is that there was plenty to do with only your feet (or on a bike) and I just...kind of miss that sort of atmosphere where you can just...decide to walk some place.
Obviously we can decide to walk some place as well, but it's just...different.
Like, what I wouldn't give to tell my kids to go for a walk around the lake. Or run to the store to grab whatever for me. Or take their younger siblings to the park. Or sign them up for swim team or gymnastics or whatever and know that they could just...get themselves there...
That's not really possible here. And that's fine. It's just different here. Like, our assigned high school is farther away from our house than the entire area of High River. Like, you could fit High River between our house and the high school (possibly twice). Again, that's fine. Small town life isn't perfect (and I don't even know that I want to live in a small town; a city designed around people would be nice as well), but I just sometimes dream of living in a place other than the one that we're in.
But, I think it's okay. The kids have fun exploring the little strip of woods in the back-backyard, though I do worry about them "trespassing" (though this is technically city land), given the state of things (gun-climate) in our country right now. We go to the park and library fairy often. And I think they're having just a fine childhood.
I remember talking with fondness about my time growing up in PoCo with my mom once—this was not a small town, but a bustling metropolis and still only a 15 minute walk to the elementary school, through a wooded park, the Hyde Creek Nature Reserve literally 2 minutes from our front door (the rec center only a fifteen minute wakl), even the secondary school (which I was sure was a million miles away when I was little) was only a half hour walk from our house—and she admitted that the period we lived there were some of her most miserable years. Like, how? When it had been such a magical place for me?
So even though when I go back and look at a lot of places I've lived, living here makes me feel trapped, I feel pretty confident that the children are experiencing the magic of childhood, anyway.
And at least if I have to be trapped, I'm trapped with some wonderful people!
Phoebe has been very interested in taking care of things lately, so here she is reading a book to her baby doll:
And here she is putting shoes on her puppy so it can come to the library with us (though we did make puppy sit in the car):
I think this was Phoebe's first time actually coming inside the library with me/us. We all went today for a change.
She quickly made herself right at home (plopped on the floor on her belly to read a story):
This last picture doesn't really have anything to do with any of our outings (since it was taken at home yesterday). It's just a cute little picture of Phoebe's feet that she took all by herself.