A magnificent thing has been happening outside my window in Brooklyn. This past summer, I noticed vegetable gardens and fruit trees overwhelming the once-empty hull of yard behind my building. The paved patios have been blasted up and turned into thriving miniature farms. Gardens are being grown on the rusty fire escapes and tended by my young, overall-clad neighbors. Everything is getting greener, and leafier. Everything seems more… alive. A month ago, before the present frost hit, a gaggle of speckled birds I have never seen were casually tearing at the round fruits of a new tree. I’ve lived in my Brooklyn apartment for 14 years, long enough to turn from tenant to witness, so you’ll believe me when I tell you the change is considerable.

 

The results of the urban gardeners’ efforts are delightful and alluring. Even… More…

Looking for some outdoor summer fun but hate the crowds of Yellowstone, the remoteness of Dry Tortugas, the heat of Death Valley, and the obviousness of the Grand Canyon? Maybe you’d instead enjoy picnicking in James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park in Georgia. Or swimming at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Kentucky. Or walking your leashed pet through Harry “Babe” Woodyard State Natural Area in Illinois.

 

If so, you should get on that now. This is not a good time for state parks. With economic conditions making employment and education seem like privileges, recreation is hardly thought a right. Which is why the state parks make easy targets for the nation’s 50 governors and 7,382 state legislators looking to cut costs. Which is why the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in turn, has placed state parks and… More…