a different meaning the word has today than it did 50 years ago,
when I was a kid. I liked the old meaning better, and today on
my morning walk I was thinking about it.
of the Federal Building Complex
of grass came to mind as I walked around the Federal Building
Complex and looked over the low railing that surrounds the property.
Suddenly the large expanse of green grass, so rare in Santa Fe,
was reminding me of my childhood. With Santa Fes recent
efforts to conserve water, large expanses of grass are getting
harder and harder to find these days, except around government
buildings and city parks. But things used to be different.
when I was in elementary school, my family moved into one of the
first subdivisions in Santa Fe. In those days subdivision homes
came with no improvementsjust the house itself. There were
no drapes or carpets inside, and no landscaping or perimeter walls
outside. That quickly changed, however, as the women busied themselves
turning the bare houses into homes, while the men were landscaping
the yards and building walls.
a year after we moved in, most of the houses in our area had enclosed
back yards with beautiful bluegrass and flowered landscaping.
Many young trees had also been planted, giving property owners
high expectations of fruit, shade or both in the future.
front yards were different. It was as if there were an unspoken
rule, which allowed only luxuriant lawns to be planted in front.
Flowers, if any, were set close to the house so that the grass
had no obstructions. Moreover, no walls were erected in the front
yards, which gave a friendly, open feeling to approaching visitors.
The only things that broke up the continuous expanse of grass
were the driveways leading to the garages of the houses. To us
children of the neighborhood it was like one gigantic athletic
field, with the driveways conveniently providing stripes. If a
football game ensued and the ball carrier got by the defense,
he could just keep on running foreveror at least until the
last defender gave up and stopped chasing him.
along the perimeter of the Federal Building Complex with these
memories of my Santa Fe childhood, I reflected upon the old adage
that Good fences make good neighbors. I wondered if
it was really true. At least when I was a kid, I think a better
phrase might have been, Good fences are the kind that do
not separate good neighbors.
was then, and this is now. Sadly, I have to say that the original
adage is probably correct today, not only in Santa Fe, but all
across the country. With all the crime and violence in the news,
privacy and caution are important. But how nice it would be if
someday we return to that gigantic football field mentality of
yesterday, with no walls between us.
great memories of yesterday made me want to make today a great
day as well. So this morning I stopped at the French Pastry Shop
without a trace of guilt. And returning to my house afterward,
I recalled once more the green, green grass of home, so long ago.
great green day yourself.