A Walk in the Park

Friday afternoon in the park in Lonehill, Johannesburg.

Friday afternoon in the park in Lonehill, Johannesburg.

As a child about fifteen years ago in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, I remember driving past an ostrich farm on the way from my house to the grocery store in the evening, and craning my neck to count how many ostriches I could see. Today, when I drive from my very same house to that very same grocery store, the street that was surrounded by the farm is now closed in by townhouses and apartment blocks, and there is not an ostrich in sight.

As a child, I also remember spending time in the park, be it tossing a rock, kicking a ball, or just going for a walk with my parents. I dread the day when that park exists no longer, being replaced by townhouses and complexes and brick walls and satellite dishes. Walking through the parks near my house, I saw what people are still using parks for, and why they are still relevant in today’s world:

Meeting with friends

Meeting with friends,

Getting in touch with Mother Nature

Getting in touch with Mother Nature,

Doing some exercise,

Doing some exercise,

Or even going for a dip.

Or even going for a dip.

However, our parks tend to be severely underused, considering the privilege that they are.

Some say South Africa’s public parks are going to the dogs…

Some say South Africa’s public parks are going to the dogs…

… But maybe that’s who they’re catered to.

… But maybe that’s who they’re catered to.

A finely equipped play park, without anyone to play.

A finely equipped play park, without anyone to play.

Empty swings and echoes of laughter.

Empty swings and echoes of laughter.

Even when everyone leaves the park for the day, the magic remains.

Even when everyone leaves the park for the day, the magic remains.

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