Monday, September 26, 2005

Playgrounds, And Pine Trees

Kings Park being ruled out, I took Susannah out for a daddy-daughter time this afternoon. We headed over the crest of Napier Street to the playground on the ocean. The beach, and Marine Parade, were pretty much heaving with families out enjoying the public holiday. After a while, we went in search of ice lollies, and sat and ate them under a big sun-shelter; then played in the park again. But there were some older boys who weren't being very friendly, so we left them to it and headed back towards home through the grounds of the Town Hall.

The Town Hall was originally a private home on a grand scale, with terraced lawns, and stone walks and staircases joining them up, whose owner gave it over to the community; the place obviously hasn't been maintained for several years, though the new mayor has instigated a timely restoration programme, and the grounds have a real air of faded grandeur to them. Within the grounds is a lovely little playground, shaded almost throughout the day by surrounding (very) tall trees; and we had this gem all to ourselves for a good half-hour before heading home.

The homes around here are a real mix. There are well-cared-for old homes in a colonial style, with verandahs and picket fences and roses growing in the front garden; there are run-down old houses that are, essentially, of no value whatsoever themselves, but sit on prime real-estate; and there are the new homes, many of them a collection of boxes that look more like a public building - a library, perhaps, or a small university department - than a home, houses where the owners bought the land and tore down the old house to replace it with something new; and then there are the (mostly low-level) appartment blocks along the edge of the ocean. And all these things are jumbled together beneath the Norfolk Pines.

The original pines were planted by two residents when Cottesloe was first mapped-out for development, but before most of it had been built. They watered each plant every day for the first two or three years, from buckets of water drawn from their own wells, in order to give them the best possible start. More pines have been planted in the years since - not always cared for so lovingly, and with mixed success. But long after the two neighbours are gone, the towering pines stand as testimony to their vision, and the sacrificial way they nurtured that vision into a reality that others would benefit from for generations to come.

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