For twelve years of my childhood I trespassed, unintentionally, into Pickwick Gardens: private land owned by the Stavert family. Over time, the gardens and I developed a language of familiarity, of meditative motions instead of words.
The garden breathes, coming to life each night as I run across it. The garden’s tree cover shields me. The garden’s blanket of grass comforts me during long weeks. The garden’s chirping crickets keep me company. Over time, the garden developed into a piece of me, a loyal friend. I grew to love it, to understand it—to genuinely care for it. As a child, I spent many summer nights there, often playing tag at dusk, feeling the soft soil and gnarled tree roots under my feet as I ran. I knew every curve of the garden’s edges with my eyes closed. I knew where the gap was in the wall of foliage, which I could squeeze through, climb the waterfall, and get the best view of the sunset. And I knew every flower bush lining the garden: from the buttery daffodils near the entrance to the gingery marigolds in the southern corner.
But the Stavert family didn’t see the garden through my eyes. Last year, I found out that Pickwick Gardens was being torn down to build town houses in its place. Despite my efforts to stop this, the economic necessity of developing won out. It’s hard to imagine a future in Burbank with a landscape entirely different from the one I grew up in. I’m grateful for Pickwick Gardens, my little corner of the world, and the role it played in a chapter of my life. When meaningful places are threatened, it becomes vital to write about them, to share their stories. Today, I write about the gardens, recording our language of nature. Tomorrow, my place may be gone. But I’m comforted knowing that the hallmarks of our friendship will live on as memories, frozen in time through my words.