The Unbearable Banishment: <i>Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home</i>

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

A lot of New Jersey is horribly over-developed. Do you guys know what a bash and build* is? The state real estate PACs bury their hands deep inside the local politician's pockets and tickle their balls, so they generally get whatever they want. There are, however, some really beautiful tracts of land that were set aside as nature preserves. I can't imagine how this was allowed to happen. Perhaps someone was light on a bribe one week.

We like to take walks in the nearby woods. (3-Year Old Daughter calls it "The Jungle.") There are some walking paths of varying lengths that take you on a twisty stroll through the trees.

I am so torn between this life and the life I live(d) in New York. I love them both equally but for different reasons. Admittedly, it's a happy problem. And don't worry. I hang on my cross for plenty of other things that carry a lot more weight than this. But it is a conflict, nonetheless.

Just look at them. Go ahead. Click on it.

I'm not trading this for concrete and asphalt. I know people have been raising kids in the city for many generations, but The Daughters and Mrs. Wife seem genuinely happy here. Remember: Happy wife. Happy life.

So here I'll stay. When I think about it, it's really not such an unbearable banishment after all.

* Someone buys a small house—usually a cape or a bungalow—demolishes it, and erects a garish multi-million dollar vertical monstrosity in its place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that I could live without trees for very long.

Beautiful jungle.

August 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

I feel the same way about it here. We live in a planned community, and in the planning they included a lot of green space which they have stuck to over the past fifty years. Not to mention you can get anywhere in town by foot, bike or golf cart via the 75 miles of paths. That's the upside. The downside is we have to live in very conservative, white bread (made with whole grain, of course) place. We've been here since the oldest was a baby, and we'll be here until the youngest graduates high school in four years.

August 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you know I have never moved away from where we grew up. I would really miss the parkway. Every Sunday we get up go for breakfast and take the bike down the parkway to the marina to watch the boats. It is one of the best ways to start the work week. I would truly miss it but would take a walk on the beach in return instead---hence when we retire we want to go south!

August 23, 2009 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

The girl and I are in the woods all summer. Concrete the rest of the year. It works out well, and neither one of us could do without trees...or concrete.

I have to agree--happy wife, happy life. That says it all.

It's all in the balance.

August 23, 2009 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

p.s. the pictures are truly lovely.

August 23, 2009 at 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful pics... can almost hear the giggles in the second one!

the year i lived in DC, i had days when i simply had to find greenspace. might have made it the entire year without a car otherwise... happy life... small sacrifice...

August 23, 2009 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger JZ said...

I'll always believe that with proper planning, one can have the best of both worlds. I don't think we have a lot of it here in the U.S. (the one that does come to mind that I so desperately enjoyed was the George Washington Parkway along the Potomac, extending south from Alexandria, VA), but in my short trips abroad I've observed much more sensible land planning where one can have the density of the built world nearly walking distance from the pastoral and possibly even the wild. I suppose if we eliminate the cheap and accessible fuel sources we have today, we'll be back to those relationships in no time....

August 23, 2009 at 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the city around here, "bash and build", is known as "in-fill". It's been a common practice, but objections are starting to be raised as the monstrosities distort and destroy the original "character of the neighbourhood".

I can't live without natural settings. If I was forced to live in an asphalt and concrete jungle, i.e. a city, I would likely go insane.

August 23, 2009 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Sounds like you have the best of both worlds. I would hate the long commute, but when you get there, you are somewhere special (both ends), so that makes it worth enduring. Walks in the woods are essential for kids, but mixing in a healthy dose of NYC culture sounds ideal. Yeah, your kind of banishment sounds pretty good!
Sweet photos!

August 23, 2009 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger tennysoneehemingway said...

We have the same sort of bash and build in my town. We have so much Heritage listed stuff though, that developers have to sit on stuff until it's deteriorated to such a point that no one could live there if it wasn't torn down. It's called, 'fuck you, city council.'

August 24, 2009 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

Great shots and nice musically inspired title!

I need ample green space, one of the reasons I'm not interested (despite the obvious benefits) in living in a very large city.

August 24, 2009 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger Sid said...

I'm lucky. Living in Cape Town I have everything. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, Table Mountain, forests and a little city. Of course our city has nothing on New York.

August 24, 2009 at 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the photos. Sydney has loads of green areas and parks full of enormous Moreton Bay Figs so I feel like I've got the best of both worlds.

That said, I did grow up in NZ next door to a woods and it was a fabulous place to be a child

August 24, 2009 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Annie: I totally get the need for trees. Most people have it. But it’s not something that ever got under my skin. Now, having a decent art museum nearby so I can charge my batteries? Crucial.

Cat: Planned communities kind of scare me a bit but it sounds like you’ve got a handle on things.

MT: Mom loved the parkway too. The emerald necklace.

Leah: I followed your upstate adventures. Good on you for providing that to your girl. Brooklyn is pretty homey, really. I was in Boerum Hill and Fort Greene for a number of years.

Daisy: DC is actually a really pretty area. My sister-in-law lives there and the green space is nice, but the traffic down there is MURDER.

JZ: I agree but, for many communities in New Jersey, it’s already too late. We are past the point of no return. Is the answer planned communities (see Cat above)?

Rob: The new construction looks ridiculous. A huge palace on a little patch of land that was never meant to accommodate a house that size. An architectural nightmare for the neighborhood.

Lori: Yes, but for the commute it’s perfect. Four hours per day. It’s mind-numbing. Sometimes, I swear I can actually feel my soul leaving my body in little bits and pieces.

TE: Well, that’s preferable than just letting development run wild. I’ve seen the results of that policy and it’s not pretty.

AFM: I’m VERY glad that you picked up on the music cue. I thought I was being horribly clever and that nobody would notice.

Sid: Man, I wish I could visit Cape Town. It’s so far away. The other end of the planet, really! And, believe me, New York isn’t for everybody.

Nurse: I had woods nearby as well. They were later developed into cookie-cutter houses, but the area was still pretty raw when I was a child.

August 24, 2009 at 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Husband's aunt lives in Larchmont and that seems like a nice area. I'll take the trees anyday--just not wired for a concrete life. Love the title as well and will be humming it all day.

August 24, 2009 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

TUB: I think it was Flint, Michigan where they are actually re-naturalizing some of their suburban areas that have been abandoned due to economic hard times. This way, everybody enjoys parkland adjacent to their neighborhoods rather than a miniature version of Detroit. How this works with imminent domain, etc. I have NO idea.

But I suppose I pose this question: If you could have 1/2 acre with your house versus a townhome with a shared 10, 25 or even 100 acre park within walking distance, what would you choose?

No development pattern is entirely fixed especially when you change the economics behind it. At least you all enjoy an suburban pattern based on the commuter train arterials. Once cheap oil permanently disappears, I dread to think what will happen to Raleigh whose modus operandi has been to eat up as much land as possible and make it accessible only by automobile. I think Portland may be a good visual to understand what I'm getting at (despite their admitted lapsing from their own zoning): Denser neighborhoods, compact urban form....lots of great green stuff within reach by foot, bike or streetcar.....

eek. sometimes i just get carried away.....not an urban design blog....sorry!

August 24, 2009 at 8:47 PM  

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