When I first arrived in the Washington, DC area, my brother lived in the Dale City area. It was a new housing community with mega-houses being built. His was a five bedroom house–tiny bedrooms, a living room, and a gigantic family room.
And there were places along the roads where there were no houses. Grasses grew tall and waved in the wind. I’m sure mice and rabbits crept through it, nibbling on grass.
Those empty spaces soon were covered in more mega-houses. In fact, there is very little in this area that remains empty. A small patch of land here and there, usually because of the odd size or placement. It always has a sign up on that says For Lease, but no one can do anything with it.
When I was growing up, we had two vacant lots in our city. One was across the street from the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church. It was all dirt, and people tossed junk into it. Fun walking through it to see what junk was there. Either the church owned it or they bought it because they eventually flattened it out, wrapped a cyclone fence around it, and added grass for a playing field. Still there.
The second lot was behind my house. It was huge! I imagine it was owned by one of the people on the opposite end of the block. No one paid it much mind. The grass grew tall in the spring rains, then turned yellow and dried out.
The local strays wandered through it, their tails flicking up. The cats were all black and mangy. Our cats hopped the fence, too, stalking through the grass.
We had a cyclone fence bordering our yard and the lot. My father was into amateur radio then and had something like four antennas up, all tethered with guy wires. There was a gate also that opened to a strip of land that was a tiny vacant lot. We owned that one as part of our property.
The kids would walk back from the elementary school and cut through the vacant lot. However, to get to where they were going, they had to hop the fence to the tiny lot, then hop the gate, then cut through our yard. We’d sometimes look out the window and see boys–girls never did this–just strolling past our house from our backyard.
My father always chased them off. The kids probably talks about the “mean man” who scared them away. But with all the guy wires, he didn’t want someone to get hurt.
That lot’s now gone. The developers filled it with condos.
I think I liked the vacant lot better.