Baseball is saving our old way of life

Last winter was so bad that warm weather this spring actually caused some Leasiders to go casually strolling around the neighbourhood.

It was a throwback to an earlier era when people out walking in Leaside were as common as bungalows. Twenty-five or so years ago our sidewalks were busy with pedestrians, many with their dogs, who only occasionally had to give way to apologetic joggers or moms with baby buggies.

Neighbours would chat with each other as they washed cars, mowed their lawns, puttered in their front gardens.

Even then our up-market future was taking shape. 

Old Leaside never was a front porch community – the switch to back decks and patios had already occurred. Affluent Leasiders were sprucing up and building additions to their houses. They also bought second cars, an anomaly in their one-car driveways and garages, and a trend confounding our trafficphobes.

When you can afford two or three cars, then maybe you need a bigger house. And maybe someone to look after the kids while mom and dad work to pay the mortgage?

So we have street life in Leaside today:  The walkers are vastly outnumbered by the joggers, grim-faced and oblivious as they put in their miles before or after a hard day downtown.

Dogs are increasingly walked in teams by professional dog-walkers (to their credit, almost all dog-walkers are more thoughtful than they used to be); babies are walked by their nannies, also sometimes in teams.

Lawns and gardens are tended by Kutting Krew and Leaside Landscaping. We own too many cars to wash any of them by hand. There’s at least one construction site on every block; tradesmen building the new Leaside vastly outnumber oldsters out enjoying the sunshine.

We seem to be turning our backs on public outdoor living. Leaside land is too valuable to be left in grass, Leasiders’ time too fleeting to waste in meandering and socializing. Work, work out, coccoon, disappear into the i-world.

There are glimmers of a better way. Whatever the problems of doing business on Bayview, it’s still a great street for strollers, and its people-watching has never been more varied and interesting. Too bad the same will never be said of the made-over Laird Dr. area.

And then there are the basketball nets.

There’s at least one of the new, portable, adjustable standards on every block nowadays, and the kids use them almost as much as they use their street hockey gear, their scooters, their skateboards. The kids in Leaside are our outdoors people even as their parents dash around in their SUVs and disappear into their monster houses.

A few of us even cherish yards still big enough for baseball or soccer. How else do you get to know your neighbours than when the balls go onto their property?