Feb
16
2011

  Recreational Area #3

T started work on our third recreational area-- a playground anchored by a large jungle gym. The first recreational area is Maple Shade Park, the grassy amphitheater around a large tree. The second is Hammock Camp, where we're putting in a pond right now. I don't have a name for this third area yet.

It's back behind the house, down the hill by the swale. It was actually the first area I imagined, but due to the topography wound up being the one we could delay work on the longest (because it doesn't require as much grading as anything else). We wound up getting a beautiful wooden jungle gym from some acquaintances of ours whose youngest child is now a teenage girl, and her father wanted to reclaim the space in their yard now that the swingset was underutilized. T and I gladly went out there and disassembled and trucked the whole thing out late last August, and the pieces have been sitting in a pile in our yard since then. But it was pretty much always the plan to construct it this spring, so we're right on schedule.

Click here for the slideshow, if you didn't catch it while it was on the front page of the blog. Note especially the photo with the tractor, because I will explain some details showing there about why I chose this location.

I took that photo in the late afternoon from the screened porch at the back of the house. You can see the main two reasons I like this location already. First, the thing that we'll be able to enjoy right away, is the shade! Because this spot is in its own little valley, and there is a reasonably substantial stand of trees on two sides, this particular spot is in shade for a good portion of the day. Because there are more warm months than cool months here, this is important. Plus, it's important because I sunburn so easily, I pretty much must be in the shade even if I wear sunscreen if I am to be outside more than 1 hour. With sunscreen, in the shade, I will get a tan rather than burn. A "tan" that looks suspiciously like normal skin color in others, but that's where I'm coming from. Shade is of vital importance to me for about eight months of the year.

The second thing you'll notice is that I took the photo from the screened porch. You see what a clear view of the entire area I've got. Admittedly, this is not a feature I will be able to enjoy anytime soon. It's not like I'm siting the jungle gym in view of the porch because I think it will be prettier than ornamental landscaping (which will be there, too, although we probably won't start planting it out until fall). I'm putting the jungle gym there in anticipation of the time when I will be able to sit in comfort on the sofa on the porch, cool drink in hand and ceiling fan wafting cool air from above with the other mom(s) as we watch our children play from this distance. But the kids will of course have to be old enough that they can handle themselves on a jungle gym without parents being right there with them. Which I'm going to guess will be about 5 or 6 years old. It's possible the day could come sooner, but my only experience is with W, so all I know for sure is I can't be that far away from him at age two! And based on his playmates, I doubt they're ready to be left quite that alone at age 3, either. I don't have close experience with 4-year-olds, so that's the wild-card age, although I suspect their judgment is still pretty bad and you'd probably want to parent them from closer range then, too. But since b2 is just arriving this summer, I'll have to wait at least until he is old enough for distance observation, even if W has aged out. And who knows, b3 might be a consideration in the future (this will hinge upon whether T still craves a girl and is willing to roll the dice again to get one. . .).

So we're talking four years at a minimum until I can move up to the porch, although it could be five or six years or more. So I will construct a comfortable sitting area down there in the meantime. They've got a lot of outdoor lounge furniture that is quite comfortable, so I'll be shopping for that over the next several months. Depending on the cost, I might focus my search on estate sales and other used furniture shops rather than new. I've had good luck with the pieces I've found (notably the sectional for the porch, which is actually regular indoor furniture but it's held up out there for the past eight years), the problem is that it's usually somewhat serendipitous and you aren't guaranteed to find exactly what you need when you need it.

Between the three new recreational areas, I'm going to need a lot of lounge seating, chairs, and tables. And most of it is going to have to be pretty substantial since the winds here are terrific so lightweight stuff will get blown all over creation and will be too much of a nuisance to use (although we definitely pull out the plastic chairs for parties).

I'm also going to need storage boxes. I'm sure there will be items I'll want to keep in each area for convenience, rather than having to bring a bag with me every time I go to one of them. But they may be items I'll need to keep dry, or keep animals out of, or something. At the very least, keep from blowing away. Things like picnic blankets, or tarps, or toys, or extra diapers or potties or what have you. I'll know more what's not a big deal to carry each trip vs which I wish I could just store on location once we start using these areas for real playtime.