About a week ago I moved from far south Boulder to far north Boulder. Not a great distance, but a big change. Most mornings I walk or run with my dog for about 3 miles. In south Boulder that meant a meandering course through a never-ending succession of suburban tract houses on winding streets to a small lake and then back. In north Boulder, on the ragged edge of town, the same distance is quite different, in a land with variable zoning and development over many years for many uses.
Starting in our little New Urbanist neighborhood of "mountain Victorian" houses and condos, we travel first past
and even more dense neighborhood, down-right urban in feel, of three-story masonry buildings with residential units above commercial spaces below and then along a creek to a trailer park with its chaotic arrangement of streets and fences. That trailer park gives way to
an open space buffer of tall grasses with magnificent views of the foothills just west of Boulder to
another neighborhood of little houses and courtyards, along a paved open-space path. After a brief sojourn into the dog park, we make our way north through the open space past a few blocks of large, single-family houses in the typical suburban, detached, wide-lawn arrangement.
Our next change of scene takes us past some small warehouses and the city's lost bicycle depot and then
the oddest collection of buildings - a Holiday Inn Express, the domed storage building of the Transportation Dept and the now-abandoned fire department training tower. From there it gets maybe stranger still as we pass
the National Guard site with its collection of buildings and fighting vehicles which is across the street from the non-profit low-income housing organization and a series of more sheet metal warehouses and garages. The sheet-metal-shed tour continues as we move
along by the organic peat moss provider, the warehouse strip that contains a dry cleaner, winery and floor finishers, and ends with the kid's fun park.
And then back again to the Holiday neighborhood of new urbanist houses and condos surrounding little courtyards, founded on the site of the former Holiday drive-in movie theaters.
There are sections of this walk that are undeniably scrubby. But the vibrancy of all this disorganized flotsam is interesting and makes my small new section of town feel like a city. And, like nature, the most interesting and vibrant life is found at the edges.