Dh & I spent Sunday morning raking the leaves in our backyard (& we both have the aches & pains to show for it!). The unusually mild weather (global warming?) has kept the leaves on the trees late this year, and even though some still have some leaves, we figured it was now or never -- only a few pickup days left, and who knows how many days of nice weather.
Our house is about 23 years old, a pie-shaped lot in the corner of a "square" that's very narrow at the front and wider at the back -- a spacious, fenced back yard with a large shed in the corner and a nice-sized deck. It's one of the largest lots on the street, and probably the whole subdivision, and while it's still nowhere near the size of the backyards I grew up with (in small Prairie towns), lots this large are generally hard to come by in suburban southern Ontario, and pretty much impossible to find in any new subdivision they're building today. It was one of the things that attracted us to buy this house -- a big yard for our kids to play in, with a swingset, sandbox, maybe even a swimming pool someday.
Well, the kids never materialized, and the yard has gone largely unused in the 17 years we've lived here. It's not just the ghosts of the children that never arrived that keeps us from going there. For one thing, our yard faces west & the afternoon sun means it's hard to sit on the deck in the afternoon or evening, even with a patio umbrella. (Something a young, inexperienced homebuyer, looking at a house in the middle of February, wouldn't think about!) For another, neither dh or I are big outdoors people -- both of us grew up with our noses in books and (I in particular) had to be booted outside to play by my mother when I was growing up.
We're not really into gardening, either. I usually manage to plant a few petunias & impatiens to add a little colour, and I do get a lot of satisfaction from seeing them grow -- I even had a little vegetable garden for a few summers, in the corner by the shed -- but I really don't have the time (or the patience) to keep up with the weeding and watering, etc. From time to time, dh will grumble about all the mowing & raking that's required and make pointed comments about condos. The yard is big enough for a pool, but it's a big expense & not something dh & I think we'd use enough. The thought of neighbourhood kids getting in somehow -- & something happening to them -- also gives me pause.
Still -- it is nice to have the extra space around us -- a buffer zone against the neighbours (although we get along fine with most of them) and the already-too-close nature of suburban living. I suppose that, if & when we ever decide to sell, it could be a selling point, especially for families with young children. The trees have gotten bigger over the years & there is some shade now, where there wasn't any awhile ago (even if it's added to the fall raking!). And whenever I am out there --as we were on Sunday, raking leaves and looking around -- I'm glad we have it. Even if it's not being used in quite the way we planned.