We don't have a backyard. And I'm beginning to notice.
Now, first I need to qualify a few things. This is NOT a 'poor me' post. My family and I choose to live where we do, in a flat in an inner-city suburb. There are other potential scenarios and options available to us, but when we examined our priorities after the birth of our first son a few years ago, we opted for proximity to support networks, friends, work and facilities over 'space'. It's absolutely been the best decision. And in worldwide terms, it's quite normal not to have your own backyard, let alone more than one or two rooms to your dwelling.
Because I know this to be true, part of me really wants to stick at this two-bedroom, no-backyard thing forever, just to prove that it's possible, even preferable, and of course the most sustainable option. Kids growing bigger? Stunt their growth! Another baby? It can sleep in the bath! Visitors? They can have our bed, we'll sleep on the dining table. Oh that's right... we don't have a dining table. Top-and-tail, anyone?
But reality has a way of interrupting my idealism with plenty of 'yeah buts', mostly in the form of two rambunctious children. My kids don't know what they are missing... but I can see that they thrive in the great outdoors. We have so many parks and facilities nearby... but it would be great if sometimes I could chuck them out of the house and let them play free-range in the dirt without constant supervision. We can buy lovely fresh local produce just up the street... but perhaps my food-phobic William would try something new if he helped to grow it himself.
Revving up the Christiania on a sunny Winter's day
Anyway, while these issues are up for debate at chez clutterpunk, we're getting on with the business of having a Claytons* backyard. I have a loose deal with myself that we have to get out at least twice a day, rain or shine.
Mostly, we visit local parks, walk to the fruit shop or post office, or head to the train station (and sometimes even catch a train for fun!). When it's cold and rainy this requires some preparation:
The $15 waterproof overalls from Aussie Disposals, while outside my ethical clothing pledge, have been a real hit this winter.
We also spend a fair bit of time befriending unsuspecting people with backyards and taking them over. On Monday and Wednesday mornings we often drop in on friends in the area, and in the late afternoon, we have a bit of a rhythm going with a new family nearby, in which we come and tear up their turf in exchange for, um, company?
And late afternoon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can find us giving the next-door-neighbours' trampoline a workout. I've recently struck a little deal with the lovely, intrepid single-mother-of-three-primary-schoolers next door. She heads out for a run while I let my kids fight hers for the best trampoline-related injuries.
In all of this, one thing is for certain. If I'd never gone without a backyard, I know I wouldn't know how to appreciate one. If and when we do have the privilege, I promise you, it will be cherished.
And now I'm curious. Do YOU have a backyard? Is it big or small? Do you wish you had more or less? Do you use it or neglect it? Do you think owning or renting makes a difference to how you use your outdoor space?
And most importantly... do you have a trampoline and are you home on Friday?
*Aussie slang for a poor substitute or imitation