MY NEIGHBORHOOD IN 200 WORDS

MY NEIGHBORHOOD IN 200 WORDS

Beavers are best known for building dams and lodges.
Beavers are best known for building dams and lodges. (Photodisc)

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Where we live shapes us, and we shape where we live. Here's what area residents have to say about where they live. An occasional Page Three feature.

The World Is Her Back Yard

My first week in Washington, as the young bride of an Army officer in 1966, I remember standing on a street corner, waiting for a light to change, and hearing two people speaking a language I did not know. I was thrilled. I had hardly strayed from my little corner of St. Louis in my life, and I believed I had stepped into a magical and exotic life.

Now, after intervals in Carthage, Tunisia, and East and West Germany, I have lived in my Arlington condo longer than anywhere. My balcony overlooks a park with trees, a creek and a path just steps from my door. For most of the 20 or so years I've lived here, I have enjoyed this tiny swath of woodland between busy streets and condos, particularly one field, between George Mason Drive and Walter Reed Avenue, where I feel I have been a world tourist on the playing fields of Arlington.

First, in the late 1980s, the players were mostly white men playing softball, giving way in the 1990s to Hispanics playing soccer. At least once the field hosted a South Asian cricket match, and around the turn of the century, it became a Hispanic girls' soccer field. On a small patch of grass across the way, an Asian man sometimes did tai chi.

Today, as I read of protests against immigrant workers in some area communities, I am pleased that my community has not only set aside an area for day laborers to wait for employment, with a picnic table and portajohn, but also opened an office to facilitate their employment. Without them, my world would be so much smaller and not nearly as alive.

-- Elaine Kessler, Arlington

Honey, I'm Very Worried About the Beavers

A few days after a heavy rain hit Fairfax, I decided to attempt my usual run around Lake Royal. I managed to slog through the mud and washed out gravel and even over a leaning bridge, without stopping. But I came to an abrupt halt when I approached a creek that feeds into the lake.

There, nearly close enough to touch, were two beavers skimming the surface of the swollen creek. I had seen beavers before but never close enough to notice what adorable faces they have -- they're all melting eyes and whiskers.

I stood quietly, observing in rapt admiration, and I was thrilled when the biggest one swam even closer, as if inspecting me, too. Apparently I didn't pass muster, because it suddenly whacked a long flat tail, spraying me with a fountain of water. Before I could retreat, rodent No. 2 swam over and performed the same trick!

Dripping and insulted, I went home and poured out my indignation over that unprovoked attack to my park-naturalist husband. Laughing, he told me that was their way of telling me to get lost!

-- Rebecca Redmiles-McCaffrey, Fairfax


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