Streets, parks much quieter here nowadays

A child can break down barriers in a neighbourhood.
My next door neighbour has a young son who is four. He is outgoing. He is a curious young man who wanders about the neighbourhood talking to everyone.
Everything catches his attention—and he isn’t bashful of asking a thousand questions about everything from grass cutting and flower planting to hedge clipping, bicycles, and more.
I suspect everyone knows him because he finds his way into people’s yards and introduces himself.
He now has a bike and his boundaries have increased. It has given him a whole new set of people in the neighbourhood to chat with.
My wife is away doing her Girl Guide work. Where we normally go for walks through neighbourhoods, I have been going further afield on my bike. It gives me the chance to roam across the community, passing through and by the playgrounds of the parks.
I am surprised at how quiet the streets of our community are in the evening. Even the parks are abandoned.
When I was growing up, we used to wander down to the Robert Moore playground and watch a few innings of liniment league softball, or go over to the arena field and watch fastball.
I was not alone and many of my friends arrived on their bikes, as well. It was where we connected. When the lights were installed at VanJura Stadium at Pither’s Point, we pedalled there.
The fields of the community were a gathering point for people of all ages in the evening. There always was something happening at the East End, McIrvine, or West End parks.
When I was even younger, my father would drive our family out to Pither’s Point Park because there often was a ladies’ and a men’s softball game going on. It was the only park with playground equipment.
And even if you were not into watching baseball, the beach was filled with swimmers and area under the trees filled with families picnicking. The campgrounds were filled with campers, and the wood smoke that wafted from the campfires carried across the park.
Today, the fields around the community are empty most evenings. The St. Francis fields have action several nights each week, but seem to have little connection to the rest of the community.
Instead of walking to the fields or riding a bike, people arrive by automobile.
The Lions Park on Second Street East and the Legion Park in the west end still attract young families seeking to tire their children before bed.
Later in the evening, the youth of the neighbourhoods could be heard running and playing hide and seek. We were close enough to home that when the first parent yelled from their front steps that it was time to come in, we all knew we were all going to be called in and that first parent usually broke up the hide and seek or tag game.
It didn’t happen until 8:30 or 9 p.m. each evening. We looked to the sun setting earlier because it made the games of hide and seek that much harder.
Even the adults seemed to be outside—cutting lawns, weeding flower beds, and everyone interrupted their outdoor tasks to talk with whoever was walking by.
The neighbourhoods were social places in the evening.
Today, they appear barren of inhabitants. Yards that used to run into each other are now boxed in with high fences so neighbours seldom talk or meet. You will catch the drift of barbecuing behind those fences, but you won’t see anyone.
The river walkway seems to have walkers all day long from before sunrise to after sunset. You’ll occasionally meet someone walking, but it doesn’t happen on a regular basis.
At the marina, people will be sitting on benches watching the arrival and departure of boats while enjoying their favourite flavour of ice cream. It is the closest of social gathering places.
The streets and yards remain empty.

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