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My Place: Vernon Park by Jake Stephenson-Bartley

Posted on 3 August 2022

Written by:

Jake Stephenson-Bartley

This summer, we are hosting a a national competition for children and young people from across the UK in collaboration with John Mullin and The Academy of Urbanism (AoU), which aims to get young people thinking about the places and spaces around them, and how they relate and connect to them. To celebrate the competition and 16 years of My Place, The Glass-House team and partners are writing stories about our own ‘My Places’. Find out more about our competition, including how young people can win a prize of £100, here.

Winter, spring, summer and fall – endless laughter, long walks, dirty ponds, sticky maple leaves, climbing walls. A park synonymous with many aspects of my life growing up. Friendships formed, fights had, watching the sun set below the tree canopy, the night descends, so too, do the bats. Snow balls in the winter, learning to bike in the spring, the days get longer, the sun reaches higher. Me too. I walk beyond the confines of the park which is wrapped by hundreds of homes, but I always return, it is familiar, it is the heart of my childhood boundary. The high sun reveals the gentle blades of grass dancing, the maple leaves reorienting towards the sun, the pond turning deeper green, the ducks take shelter on their small island. I hop from stone island to stone island, I cycle up and skate down. I dive down onto the ground and flatten the blades of grass. I open a picnic basket with friends, parents and grandparents sharing food, laughter and joy. The chlorophyll breaks down in the leaves revealing yellow pigment, moving into orange like the dusk greeting the blue sky. The branches let go of their leaves. They fall in procession gently covering the pavement. I pick my favourite to take home and frame. The leaves have gone, the crunch of autumnal leaves under my boots has been replaced by a soft blanket of snow.