We found a rope swing near our house. It’s hanging from a tree that is not on our property, in a field that is empty and waiting for development. Our neighbours showed us how to find the path where people walk their dogs, where the one tree stands alone in the middle of wide open green—a green studded with more wildflowers than we would have thought possible.
It’s not our garden, but our children can run there.
Later, we heard (from the same neighbours, bless them!) about a little piece of land that sticks out into the estuary, almost an island, where our children started their new dead crab collection. It’s a nice quiet spot, and the stones are good for skipping.
The place isn’t for sale, and we couldn’t afford it if it was, but there’s a path we’re allowed to walk on and we can go there anytime.
Now that restrictions are lifting slightly, there’s an old mansion house nearby where the formal gardens are open to the public. No charge, except a couple of euro for parking. We can walk right through the gate, straight into another world where it wouldn’t be at all surprising to catch Mr. Darcy strolling with Elizabeth Bennet under the shade of the oaks.
John the Magnificent built up that place to impress his friends, but he’s gone now, and we can walk in his garden whenever we like. We don’t even have to mow the grass.
In our own garden, a thousand times smaller than John’s, we have regular visits from a variety of songbirds. We can’t take them inside or name them, because they aren’t ours, but we can open the windows and hear their music.
It turns out that the richness of the world is not only for those rich enough to buy it. We don’t have to own everything to enjoy it.