Before we moved to Flamingo Park, I’d been focused primarily on living in the new environs—what it would be like to be in a different house and not know every inch of the garden. It was so hard to imagine leaving our home of 33 years—in an area I’d been walking for 25 years, where I recognized almost everyone I encountered, and they recognized me. I knew the time and distance of every route. What was in bloom where. Which fruit laden shrubs were Cedar Waxwings favorites. I fully expected to miss it all—my great neighbors, who put up with me planting things in their yards; Beaumont Market, aka 5 p.m. Gossip Central; the fabulous and funny women at The Arrangement, gems, the lot.
But I’m happy to report, though I still think of my familiar haunts, I don’t exactly pine for them. It’s just different now. And the best part, I hadn’t even begun to appreciate how much I’d love exploring a brand new neighborhood.
Well, essentially brand new, but in truth, I grew up a mile and a half from here; I sometimes wonder if I’m inching my way back to my childhood home.
A good grade-school friend lived a few blocks from where we are now, in a ’58 ranch (built the same year as our “new” house,) complete with gym, sauna, and swimming pool. The daylight party room was like stepping into the Alibi Tiki Lounge on N. Interstate. In fact, her dad created the Polynesian themed Alibi, and at the same time, remodeled their party room to be its twin. The Alibi still exists in all its former glory, and is well worth a visit.
As a kid, I didn’t think much about houses and gardens; but even then, I recognize their place as special. They had a landscaper, for Pete’s sake. I’d never even heard of such a thing. Those huge conifers in the background, part of that landscaping job. (Note to landscapers: consider ultimate size.)
There are so many new things to see in this neighborhood, so many directions to walk, I can’t even begin to stick to a system. I go out with my ten-year-old Chow Chow Pumpkin (still contesting me to see who’s the boss,) thinking I’ll focus on just trees. Or that I’ll photograph the gardens at Concordia University, and not get distracted.
But then I note an alley running thru an adjoining block, taking me back again to childhood memories of endless play, Kick the Can, Red Rover, Hide-N-Seek. And just when I think I’m back on track, a clever planter box turns my head. Or I stumble across a cinder block planted with Sempervivums, or an undulating Rosemary wafting with scent. And don’t get me started on McMenamins Kennedy School. Even the hellstrips are magnificent, with Acer Griseums and Miscanthus Sinensis lining the south side, a lovely pairing, and an allée of caramel fragranced Cercideiphyllum japonicum to the east.
And honestly, there are so many classic and unusual cars hanging around this neighborhood, someone could throw an auction.
One of these days, I swear, I really am going to get organized with my photography and gardenspotting. But in the meantime, I’ll go on walking the dog, taking it all in, cruising the neighborhood like a Baleen Whale, living large on all that plankton.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll forgive me my distractions…