Or alternatively titled “I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock n’ roll”
Our new house is in the rural suburbs. Not so very long ago, the area was all woods and farmlands. As the area has attracted more residents, outdoor shopping malls, drive-thru coffee stands and big box stores, the pockets of woods and meadow have dwindled but they are still nearby.
Dropping NR off at school today, I took a left instead of a right to go home. The long way loops through thickets of young trees changing colors, pastures with cattle grazing and houses dotted between acres of land. It’s a far cry from the nearby enormous tracts of houses, in communities that could be named The Heathers at Golden River or Hidden Begonias or Spanish Bridle Trails or whathaveyou.
These mega-communities are all new construction, all painted in muted colors with faux stone fronts, with wide streets and sidewalks, carefully shrubbed common areas and bronzed lamp posts. I walked some of these neighborhoods yesterday, admiring the Halloween decorations and the neat planters of fall foliage that most everyone had displayed. None of the houses were shabby or ill-kept. The lawns were mowed and the driveways swept. It was a lovely, though homogeneous, neighborhood.
Unlike the long way home. Pastures saddled next to mobile home parks. Large homes surrounded by older trees and swaths of lawn. An espresso stand at the side of the road. There was nothing matching or planned on this route. Only the fall leaves and the pastures gave it continuity. The growth and development is ad hoc.
The new construction communities are the way of the future – at least out here in the burbs. And I can see why. It’s comforting to see a community where all the homes are lovely and tended to. Nobody likes living next to the dumpy house painted bright green with the overflowing garbage bins and broken down cars. That’s why people buy into planned communities in the first place – for that first-impression peace of mind, for stable property values, for trick or treaters and Christmas light displays.
I guess I’m lucky that I live at a cross-roads between planned perfection and country wild. Some days it is nice to put on my walking shoes and canvas the flat sidewalks and gently curbed roads. Some days it is nice to take a left instead of a right and watch bulls grazing on scrubby grass and piles of firewood stacked for winter heat. Each neighborhood has its downside, certainly, but on gloomy Fridays, it can be nice to have a choice on the journey home.