Monday, August 23, 2010

Natural Playground, Part Three - Construction!

Hello! It's been such a crazy busy week around here, I haven't had a chance to do daily updates on our natural playground progress, like I wanted to. So now you get to see it all in one go, like Magic! When last I wrote, it had all been staked out, but no ground was broken. The first thing the guys did was to start lifting the sod.

Once they had gotten a fair amount of that done, within a couple of hours, they had all sorts of machines running at once.

Building the hill

And digging the trench for the path.

The fabric got laid down, and they were already ready to put in the sand!

We made our walking posts with old telephone poles, and they started to dump gravel into the pathways.

They spread the gravel out nicely, and lined the path with the boulders we had brought in. It was starting to look very nice.

That night after they left, though, we went on the path and realized that the gravel we had been using was going to be totally unsuitable. It packed down into an almost solid, pointy death-trap road. It was the kind of gravel they put under asphalt.
I woke up at one in the morning that night, from a nightmare about kids getting hurt in the playground, and tossed and turned all night long about what to do. I came downstairs at three in the morning to do some internet research, and learned that what we really needed was pea gravel. Then I spent the rest of the long, restless night, fretting about how I was going to tell these guys that they had to take up all the work they had done so far, remove that gravel, and somehow replace it with pea gravel. After, of course, we somehow found someone who would be willing to donate that much pea gravel to us for free. So that sucked.
They all took it really well, though, and figured it out. Later that morning, the old gravel was coming up (the top couple of inches, anyway) and the new gravel was going in.

We couldn't have asked for a better crew! (Thanks Brian!) It took a few days to get the gravel fixed up and the boulder edging in place. But before I knew it the woodchips were going in, and it was really starting to come together.

The hill got sod, and a sprinkler, and "Keep off the grass" signs.

And then it was just plugging away at putting the boulders in place. That was a lot of rock to lift! We had some helpers - Monica and Ross did a shift, and Jai and I fit in a little bit of time - but still that was probably the most time-consuming part.

Once the woodchips were in place, our big boulders could be delivered,

The log edging could be placed,

And our cut-log bridges could be built.

And that's where we're at as of this afternoon. The whole thing is almost done! There are still some finishing touches to go in - the hill slide will need to be dug into the hill, we will need to build some benches, and put in the big granite stepping stones (old stairs from Town Hall) and the "house of logs." The boat that we had was just too rotten to put in, so we still need to source out an old wooden dory to bury in the sand pit. The crew is done now, though, and we'll be on our own for those finishing touches. Hopefully we can get everything in place in time for the Grand Opening Sept. 18th! The kids just had to demonstrate that it's already fun:

Griffin and I were down there this morning, so I could plant some ferns in the fern circle, and by the time I was halfway done, there were five other kids, and three other parents all gathered around the sand pit. It's definitely something that this community needed. I'm still amazed at how quickly everything has been coming together. Everyone we have approached so far about donating time or materials has been completely supportive and happy to help. I'm a little awestruck about the whole thing. What can I say? Hopefully documenting it all here will inspire someone else to think about doing a natural playground in their community, or even a small version in their own back yard. Go for it - it's totally do-able, and totally rewarding!
That's it for now - I'll keep you updated as we progress towards completion. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

Dear Lauren and Jai and Griffin,

What a beautiful park! And a beautiful story of ... "I have an idea." Congratulations. What a wonderful, natural space for children to learn, play, and discover, safely. So many ways to have fun! I can't wait to read and see the yet-to-come pieces. This story says so much about the community - the donations and volunteerism are worthy of grand recognition. Know that your readers get it! Wonderful stuff :) L/Janet

Anonymous said...

It looks wonderful! What a great vision, Lauren - amazing how an idea can become reality when people pull together. I can hardly wait to play in the sand and to cross the bridges ... well done, everyone! Ciderfest will be amazing - duck races, cardboard boat races and most of all,the Grand Opening of the new natural playground! See you soon! XO M/J/G and gang

sherrieg said...

It's fantastic! I can't wait to see it in person. Congratulations! I'll have to check my calendar for the 18th...

Karissa said...

Looks amazing! Great job and what a sense of community!
Rowyn is sitting beside me and wondering if Cousin Griffin is starting to walk and talk. Too cute.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lauren, that's amazing! How gratifying it will be to see it and know that YOU made it happen! Well done! x rachel