Monday, July 20, 2009
one summer never ends, one summer never begins
That visit to the old neighborhood brought something to me, how things change. When we first moved to that suburban area, called the Berger Addition, it was essentially a series of dead-end streets with empty field on one side. Bonnie Lane two houses away on the right when facing down my street didn't even exist yet, it was just a gap between two piles of dirt that became houses in 1977. You could pretty much guess that someday those dead-ends were going to be connected and houses built in that field, but with the exception of the new section of Bonnie Lane going forward fifty yards to take a curve and link up the existing section a block away we didn't see much happen. It wasn't until after I left for college and moved out of town that the entire field where I used to spend my afternoons as a kid finally got roads laid and houses built, and the spur at the end of my street which was about twenty yards long grew to three blocks and links with an extention of the far street of the neighborhood. What I noticed in walking through the new section was that that while the houses built in the early 2000's pretty much match the houses from the late-1960's, and the new section hasn't been completely paved so you can easily tell where old meets new by that detail, the flavor of the neighborhood has changed, and that's a more palpable difference between new and old than just looking at house structures and road construction. Upper middle-class mostly-Caucasian on one side of the line, lower middle-class mostly-Hispanic on the other side of the line and seeping eastward as the older residents pass on or move away. I'm not trying to paint that demographic detail in a negative way, I don't have any idea how the neighborhood dynamic is anymore; I'm just pointing out that the face has changed over time, and I am curious how much of that is due to the rest of the fields nearby returning to being used for growing hops (the entire area was a hopfield a decade or two before we moved there, and some sections continued to be used for that crop through my living there).
I came across a giant puddle which reflected the twilight sky as I was hiking across the hopfield from my friend's house to my old home, so I took a picture of it. The next afternoon I realized what had been where I was standing: When we first moved to Toppenish, I met this kid from the far dead-end by the name of Eric, and he showed me this spot across the field at the edge of the next field, where there was a giant tree and a big hole in the dirt where we could play. There was a source of water causing this swamp with reeds and cattails -- and the occasional duck hunter -- to appear nearby. In the years that passed, the swamp was cleared but the water source still produced water so it was made into a small reservoir that inexplicably had fish in it one summer. The body of water I was standing by the other evening was the latest iteration of that water source. I didn't see the tree and hole, despite Google Maps' satellite view showing them in place; reviewing the route I took on foot, I would have walked right through the space because the dirt road next to where the stand is shown was flooded so I followed a row or two into the hops. I felt a moment of happiness when I realized where I had been standing... as much as things had changed, part of the place where I spent so many hours as a child had neither been smoothed over to become part of the hopfield nor paved over to become part of the housing development. As much as it may have changed in appearance, it was still the same in nature. And that, my friends, made my day.