Saturday, May 16, 2015

O is for Oaks, Old, and Open Spaces

Bellflower Blvd. Public Domain from
I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. My childhood was spent in Bellflower in a typical neighborhood about two blocks from the main street of town, Bellflower Boulevard. I could walk anywhere I wanted to go -- the library, church, school, or shopping. That was all good. This photo shows Bellflower Boulevard as I knew it, and I lived about eight blocks from this part of it. Do you see any trees?

Oak Tree in Downtown Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic
Everywhere I went there were buildings and cement except for one local park that was mostly developed -- ball fields, playground, tennis courts, and a picnic area. There were a few trees, but no wild or natural places. There was nowhere to take a hike or a walk that wasn't on a street or sidewalk. Except in the park, most trees were small. You would not have seen anything like this scene (just off Spring Street in Paso Robles) in downtown Bellflower.

Home with Oak Tree on 12th St in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic
Another thing I realized as I was writing this is that most homes were fairly new. Bellflower was founded in 1906. By the time I came on the scene I don't remember ever seeing any homes like this one (on 12th Street in Paso Robles) in Bellflower, though there were some in Long Beach (without the oak). Long Beach had palm trees.

Oak Trees in Downtown Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic
When I moved to Templeton, I found a dramatic change of scenery. My mother also noticed it when I moved her to Paso Robles.  She missed her friends back in Bellflower, but she loved our trees. We have huge oak trees in the middle of town and on almost every street. The example here is typical.

What I love is the open space -- the walking trails that are accessible to those who  want observe the natural world. I live a couple of blocks from Larry Moore Park. It gives me access to the Salinas River whether or not it has water in it. Parts of the park are wild and let nature take its course. Trees fall and are left to decay and support lichens and mosses. One can often see rabbits at dusk and a variety of birds singing in the trees.

I always wanted to do what these children are doing when I was a child, but there simply was no place like this. Those of us in Paso Robles may take what we have for granted, but some towns don't have the opportunities we do.

Paso Robles protected some
The Snead/Ramboiullet Trail in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic
open space for its citizens to enjoy -- even if they live in a tract home or apartment. The Snead/Ramboiullet Trail is a good example of this. In this photo on the right, you see part of this trail. People can enter the trail from four different streets that surround it. The trail  is coming from a street with single family homes and apartment buildings. Just across that bridge is a path coming from a large apartment complex. There are such entrances from many neighborhoods all leading into the park from different directions, and all those residents can enjoy the trees, wildflowers, and wildlife to be seen and heard as they walk the trails. There are probably more trails like this I have not yet discovered.  

Part of Salinas River Trail in Paso Robles, Larry Moore Park, © B. Radisavljevic
The longer Salinas River Trail is only about a mile from the Snead/Rambouillet Trail for those who want longer nature walks. The Charolais Corridor connects to it, but is newer and does not have so much nature to see. It does, however,  provide a pretty and safe trail for those walking or on bikes.

I'm noticing there is a trend now toward more planned cities with more open space. It's harder, though, for the older cities that have already developed most of their land to find places for this kind of open space. Is open space available near where you live? Do children have places close to home where they can get out into nature?
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