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Tacoma neighborhood parkway

Tacoma neighborhood parkway

If you’re a homeowner, what do you do with the grassy area between the sidewalk and curb?

Mike and I have always referred to the strip of land in front of our house as the parkway, but usage varies around the world. In England it might be a verge or berm; in Australia, the nature strip, and in Canada, a boulevard.

But whatever you call it, many homeowners and lawn care companies consider it a nuisance. The property owner is responsible for mowing and maintenance, but the city can prune or remove trees and foliage as they please.

Amber and Ben live in an older Tacoma neighborhood built high on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. One of the pleasures of taking the baby or the dogs on a walk is admiring the many gardening options made possible in this temperate, damp climate. Roses climb overhead and purple hydrangeas propagate as big as dinner plates. Fragrant lavender proliferates and hollyhocks, daisies and butterfly bushes hover over white picket fences.

Most delightful of all are the pieces of property where the owners have planted the parkways. Rather than admiring their handiwork from afar, these gardeners invite passersby to walk through a tunnel of ornamental trees, grasses and perennials on either side. On small lots in an urban setting, men and women have made the most of the space they have.Mike parkway

It’s gotten me to pondering about what I do with the “parkways” in my life. We all have them – those narrow strips of time caught between our responsibilities and pleasures. It’s easy to allow them to lie fallow. Aren’t we all busy enough tending the plot-lines already in place?

I’ve had extra time to ruminate about this from my rocking chair in Tacoma. My friend Joyce sent me a wry little poem after my post last week about modern grandparenting.

“In the dim and distant past

When life’s tempo wasn’t fast

Grandma used to rock and knit

Crochet and tat and babysit.


Grandma now is at the gym

Exercising to keep slim

Now she’s golfing with the bunch,

Taking clients out to lunch,


Going north to ski and curl

And all her days are in a whirl

Nothing seems to stop or block her

Now that Grandma’s off her rocker.”

As I commented last week, technology allows us the freedom to work from practically anywhere at nearly anytime. I was thankful to be able to participate in an important conference call this morning with my colleagues back in Carol Stream before opening my arms to Baby Libby while her mama napped. Thanks to notifications on my iPhone, I could sign up to take a meal to a friend with cancer when we return home and keep abreast of critical prayer concerns.

“Planting the parkways” is not so much for our own edification as much as for others. When we carefully consider the use of those extra spaces in our lives, we can make a difference – large or small – in someone else’s.

Yet at the end of the day, there is nowhere this grandma would rather be than – you guessed it – in her rocker.