The Dark Park – Part 1

Grand Opening of the Cherrywood Recreation and Entertainment Park 

The two wealthy residents of Cherrywood, crucial to the project, along with the recreation commission committee members, were grateful that after many months of planning, fundraising, and sweat equity, the project was finally done. They positively bubbled over with pride in their speeches, unveiling the efforts of all involved in the park’s construction. A news crew was in attendance, waiting for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin. The townspeople were eager as well, with smiles all around. The atmosphere felt charged with excitement.

Without the land donation, this would have never even gotten off the ground, but thankfully, the Winchesters, one of the founding family’s of Cherrywood, understood the park’s future benefits. For their generosity, the committee memorialized them with bronze plaques embedded in the entrance gates, recognizing their efforts for the community. The descendants would look back with pride on their family’s investment in the park for generations to come.

It was to be the go-to place, one the young at heart of every age could enjoy healthy play and joyful fitness. This park hoped to engage families but also those needing to incorporate more healthy activities in their lives. It would feature the safest, most modern equipment available to date. And the recreation commission secured enough funding through grants for the upkeep and maintenance of the park through 2050. It helped the city avoid raising taxes on the residents; they were mighty happy about that. 

You see, the town of Cherrywood had the unfortunate news-making title of having the highest obesity rate in the United States. They were #1. By providing a way to engage in fun fitness, the town hoped to turn around its reputation and its residents’ well-being. Had the community not pulled together to address their situation, the citizens’ future would have had a bleak outlook. They were dying at much too young an age from this health-crisis. The goal was to help turn the tides, to become the healthiest and fittest town instead. Admirable, if they could achieve it.

So with hope and optimism, each person on the committee and the Winchesters stood ready with their hands holding up the long red ribbon, waiting for the mayor of Cherrywood to take the ceremonial scissors and, with a quick downward stroke, to cut it apart. As soon as they did the deed, the townspeople cheered with jubilation. And the crowd moved forward forcefully, walking right past the committee and into the complex.

Shame the townspeople didn’t know that the land had been used as a dumping site of nuclear waste and other pollutants. An out-of-state company had illegally and secretly shipped in tons of barrels to be buried there for decades. The Winchesters never knew.

Nor did the townspeople ever know the history of the people from the 1400s. The settlement of Cherrywood in the late 1600s by the Pilgrims wasn’t aware the Chenwalk Indians had lived on that land, nor did they know there was originally a burial site there. It added a whole other level to this situation. 


Manicured Lawns


Every day I challenge myself to walk two miles. It’s not my favorite part of the day, but moving is a requirement. Otherwise, I feel more like I’m one with the couch rather than this world. Usually, I do it in the gym. When the weather is refreshing, and weight training isn’t also on my plate, I walk in my neighborhood. What I do enjoy about being out and about close to home is seeing all the colors of nature and feeling either the heat light me up or the wind cool me down. I’ve always enjoyed that connection to all that surrounds me.

On my walks, in between all the thoughtful conversations I’m having or written pieces I’m trying to work out in my head, I notice a whole lot of people’s attempts at manipulating their front lawns. Most of them neatly done. I see every square inch of the green strands perfectly in order, complete with lawn ornamentation that on many, compliment either the house or the owner’s personality very nicely. The lawns go from deep luscious green to weather-whipped tan and everything in between. The human-made variations of lawns are as plentiful as nature’s vibrant and colorful display of foliage. But, some go to the extreme of saying a big Fuck You – I own you! to life with their manufactured look, rather than an inviting natural feel to their display.

I’m a big fan of orderliness in my regular day to day life so one would assume that I would be equally thrilled with those lawns that smack of having a paid lawn maintainer or an enthusiastic gardener as its caretaker, but I’m not. Even though the crisp look of those well-maintained lawns do add charm and a sense of ‘all is well in the world’ rightness to the neighborhood, there is something distinctly off about it too.

I believe that some Űber-manicured looking lawns are trying to present the perfect picture, but just like the clothes people wear meant to hide personal inadequacies or as the large houses chosen to impress are covering up massive debt and insecurities; these lawns are also hiding something. The facade of beautifully well-kept greenery could be concealing an ugliness on the interior of the homes that sit on those grassy pictures of perfection. I don’t know that for a fact, but it is indeed something I contemplate. Humans do try to hide their true natures sometimes. Our society, so often, demands obedience to facades otherwise judgments will be harsh. It hasn’t yet successfully come to terms with accepting people as much as they could and, in my opinion, should.

The cliche ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ comes to mind when I think about the pristine lawn. The people go to any lengths to impress other people with their skills at lawn maintenance. It’s a facade implying they are equally as good as their lawns. 5-star quality people is the message. At least, the maintainers of those lawns hope it will lead other people to believe that. They understand what society dictates and they are playing that game of what’s truly important. The appeal may be to present this polished outward appearance to indicate a level of achievement that won’t warrant negative judgment. The fact is, their character, as individuals, should be the barometer of what qualifies for being upstanding, not their damn lawn. I will say that there are probably a few lawn aficionados who are perfectly well-rounded, well-adjusted human beings and their top priority is only to be creative masters in their lawn universes. I’m not speaking about those people.

My thoughts aren’t always accurate but with a lot of the different things this old lady has learned in her life, I’m betting I’m not entirely incorrect in my thought process today. Appearances and fear of judgment are huge in today’s world and something I don’t see changing any time soon.

Or maybe the only reason this even comes across my mind is that I don’t have a manicured lawn. This piece would help to explain it to the neighbors who don’t get why it’s not essential to me.

I hope they are reading it.

My neighbors would finally understand who they are dealing with; a person who frequently doesn’t adhere to the dictates of this society.


**Originally published on Susi’s Soap Box 7/25/2011 Re-posted here with revisions