The Slant: Visiting Hell’s Backyard

By: Roderick Reed

By: Roderick Reed

Being a parent is one of life great rewards. I am reminded as my boys are getting older of the all great snapshots in my mind. First haircut, picnics at Bluebird. Soccer games in the park…

On a recent trip to Paris with the family, I became very aware of how beautiful Paris is. Being in one of France’s great parks watching your children play on the lawn is another of the great moments in parenthood.

When we first arrived, a marvelous statistic was peppered into the introduction, which is that 40 percent f Paris land is park space. Wow! I don’t think I have been to any city in the United States that plans its park space so well.

Next day my family went to one of the beautiful parks we had heard about. The air still smelled of spring, the birds were singing, my boys were chasing each other around the lawn. I felt a memory in the making.

Then I heard it.

“The lawns are forbidden! Get off the lawn!” The acidic command came from one of the park staff. A thin older woman with gray hair pulled tight behind her head in a gray uniform, who was horrified at the vision of kids playing on grass.

We hurried off the lawn. Confused, I looked about and saw no signs or indication that the grass was forbidden. The boys were really confused, I think I saw them looking in the trees for cameras from the TV show “Punk’d”. What had we done? I wondered. It wasn’t special grass in a special area. Just vast beautiful grass and trees. I guess I should have noticed that the only recreation going on was the dignified silence of people sitting on benches or strolling glumly along the path. We left the park in time to hear the old woman yelling at a toddler and her mother.

Paris is indeed beautiful. The people are generous and kind. The architecture and culture are truly spectacular.

It’s probably just me. An American looking for something to complain about.

I am curious though, what good is a lawn you can’t play, lay or walk on? It’s akin to a tricycle with square wheels.

As one would expect from the French, form over function is something they hold dear to their hearts. As an interior designer myself, this is something I understand and appreciate about the French.

Still, I have to believe that God would be sad to see grass kids are forbidden to play on.

Paris parks must be Hell’s backyard.


Roderick Reed owns REEDesign, an interior design firm in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack. http://roderickreed.com/.


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