BY VOICE STAFF
For those inclined to lament the paving over of paradises, Fenwick’s first ever “Green Street” last Saturday was a pleasing, if temporary, reversal. A stretch of Canboro Road from Maple Acre Library to the Royal Bank was covered with sod, making Fenwick the 10th Canadian site in this year’s “Green Street Challenge.” Created by the non-profit Come Alive Outside, the Green Street Challenge encourages cities and towns to arrange pop-up parks, with a mind to “celebrate the importance of outdoor, unstructured play.”
Barb Christopher, of Young Sod Farms, first approached the Town with the idea last year, and when things didn’t work out, returned this summer and proposed the event again. This time, the timing was right: at 4:30 AM Saturday, her husband, Scott, cut 7,000 sq. ft. of Kentucky Bluegrass into 700 rolls. Downtown Fenwick was closed to traffic at 7 AM, and by 8 AM the street was covered by turf. “It looked great then,” Barb said a few hours later, gesturing towards the grass’ dimming green. While asphalt is not an ideal surface for the sod, she had no doubt that it would survive the day, and said that by 7 PM “it will be at a family’s lawn on Foss Road.”
The village’s transformation was stunning. What is usually a busy thoroughfare was lined with hay bales, dotted with tents, and even played home to a life-sized chessboard. In the afternoon, as the darkening sky threatened a watering, the street was sparsely populated, but earlier, the crowds were out. Christopher guessed that hundreds had passed through before lunch, including, she noted, four generations of the same family.
In addition to the chessboard, the Town organized a number of other kid-friendly games, most popularly, mini-putt. All of Fenwick’s shops were open for the day. Friday’s Child had a table set up selling extra produce from their home garden. The Broken Gavel had a grill going—and even the library stayed open past noon, when it normally closes on Saturdays.
As the storm clouds passed, a new wave of people arrived. The afternoon’s “Smoothie Bike,” a bicycle whose chain worked a blender, was having its blades churned at an almighty pace. Friday’s Child’s Bailie Maxwell was at their table, talking about vegetables, when her daughter came up and proudly presented a cup she’d pedaled herself. “Mommy,” she said. “I made you a smoothie.”
The bike was, unfortunately, sized only for kids, though this was clearly consistent with the day’s theme of emphasizing to children the fun that can be had in healthy activities—including pedaling for berries and yogurt.
Javel Hernando Rodriguez, a 33-year-old Mexican migrant worker at Willowbrook Nurseries, didn’t know about the event when he came into Fenwick on the day, but was pleasantly surprised when he saw all that was going on. “I took a few pictures to send back to my kids at home,” he said, pulling up photos of his sons on his phone.
Past where Rodriguez was standing, near the post office, was a spot of street past where the sod ended but where the road was still closed. Earlier in the day, chalk had been handed out for kids to play with, and pieces of it still dotted the scribblings on the street. Most had written only their names or drawn flowers or hearts. But one, seemingly, had tried to spoil the day for everyone else. “Sorry guys, but summer is almost over,” they’d written in big blue letters.
The kids still playing didn’t seem to mind. They chased each other across the grass and, breathing heavily, sat on the hay bales lining the turf. There were still a few more weeks of summer, and, more importantly, a few more hours left in the day.