Friday, March 09, 2007

A Vote for Green Spaces in Urban Places

I grew up on a farm ... running and playing hide-and-go seek in the corn rows; occasionally running into getaway cows in the parking lot; watching foxes play tag; spotting the sparkly-eyed deer grazing in the fields; spying on great blue herons in the pond. And while I would not trade the last decade-plus of my life that's revolved around Tacoma ... sometimes I miss nature's simpler pleasures.

I toured Metro Parks' three community gardens today. There was the one at Kandle Park, sleeping silently for spring preparations and gardeners to awaken the soil from its slumber. Then the one most folks will recognize, located at the corner of North 21st and Proctor, where it looked forlorn and forgotten as it awaits its seasonal tenants' return. Then there was Franklin, the one at the far corner of the park at South 12th and Puget Sound. The larger of the three ... it seemed like an oasis of farmland in the middle of Central Tacoma.

So today, as I approached the third and final garden on my afternoon tour, when I spied a large bird perched on the fence, I assumed it was a fake. A decoy meant to keep the other, smaller birds at bay. Away from the bounty of this bodacious garden.

But my, oh, my, it was realistic. Whoever created that there decoy was good. I can usually spot a fake owl or whatnot from blocks away, but that. That was a work of brilliance.

Then it moved. The large brown and white-flecked bird with dark, hooked beak moved.

And something told me that batteries were not included.

It moved, stood there elegantly in front of us as we pondered its breed (we assume falcon, but could have easily been a juvenile eagle, I'm guessing -- hey Tahoma Audubon, I'm now officially hooked), the big bird stretched its wings and soared slowly over the luscious garden's goods and into a nearby tree. And we stared; still unbelieving.

Urban awe set in.

I look forward to the day Tacoma reclaims even more of its urban spaces with community gardens, green walls and roofs, rain gardens, native landscaping, and the growing number of tools that developers and urban planners now have in their toolboxes to create urban spaces that invite nature's natural wonders to coexist, and thrive ... even in an urban jungle.

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