Park It

There's much to enjoy about Brookline's Parks and Outdoor Spaces

When we first to Brookline, we traded a big back yard for “big city” living. At the time, our twin boys were seven years old, and the thought of being cooped up in a house for an endless New England winter with no substantial yard space into which to throw the boys was distressing to say the least.  Little boys need fresh air and exercise, and so do their parents. Growing boys need to run off excess energy and throw balls and climb things and poke things with sticks (NOT including their brother’s eye) and their aging parents and grandparents need a place to participate or just sit, watch and enjoy the sunshine.

Very quickly we discovered the greenest feather in Brookline’s cap, its parks and playgrounds.

If you’ve read this column before, you know the guys in my family are baseball obsessed, and as the mother, wife and mascot, I’m pot committed to endless hours little leaguers. It was in the official capacity of a baseball mom that I was first introduced to many of the Brookline fields that contain baseball diamonds such as Warren (Eliot) Field, Robinson, , and . But it is during the beautiful weekends like the one we just had, when the sky is crystal blue and the temperature is mid-summer warm, that I truly appreciate the many outdoor spaces of Brookline. This is when the whole town seemingly pours out its doors to flood the trails, playgrounds and fields, relishing in the first sunny weekend of the season.

On Saturday I discovered when I went with my son to see a friend of his play soccer. The artificial turf soccer field (which absorbs the sun’s heat wonderfully and is almost decadent to lounge on) was practically hidden among mature oaks and a dense neighborhood. I’ve lived in Brookline for more than three years and didn’t know it existed. But then again, Brookline has 52 outdoor spaces woven within its boundaries, so it’s easy to miss a few. Downes also boasts a tot lot, running track, bleachers, field house and softball diamond.

After the soccer game my husband took both boys to  to practice their pitching, and later we sat atop Summit Hill, across from the , to watch the sky change color. As an unexpected and exciting bonus, we glimpsed a in the trees for a few seconds before it almost magically disappeared. About ten minutes later, we laughed as a large turkey pranced around and puffed itself out to about three times its normal size while making all kinds of unearthly racket. We didn’t know if it was some sort of mating ritual or if he was trying to intimidate the crowd, but it was definitely a sight to see. Now what would have happened if the turkey and the coyote crossed paths at the same time? My husband and the boys thought the coyote would prevail. My bet was on the turkey. He looked a lot meaner and he can fly. Who knew our urban parks could easily backdrop an episode of Wildlife Kingdom?

Back at home, our three-park day wound down as I raked up dead leaves and the boys played ball in the back yard. I’m definitely thankful for our smaller yard when it comes to spring cleanup. And I’m doubly thankful we have all the Brookline parks at our fingertips so we can take full advantage of the outdoors … whether it’s biking around the lake, baking in the sun, playing ball or strolling through the woods.

caro April 11, 2011 at 10:04 PM
My family greatly enjoys all the parks in Brookline. Right now my children are practicing soccer at Eliot while I sit at one of several picnic tables enjoying the glorious weather. I see many older teens playing basketball at the large court with eight hoops, two substantial tot lots, two tennis courts, a baseball diamond and another, smaller field where a family is hitting some balls. Lots of strollers, and a few dogs romping happily in the mix.
caro April 11, 2011 at 10:07 PM
PS, no turkeys or coyotes, thank goodness. But I've seen these Brookline wild turkeys several times, and Adrienne, my bet is with the turkeys also. Mean sons of a gun if they want to be. But we love it when the stroll with the babies in line behind them. So cute.
tara April 12, 2011 at 12:44 AM
I take my daughter to the Pierce playground since we live nearby, I like the layout of the playground equipment. We've been to quite a few of the "tot lots" in town and enjoy them all. They are always clean and well kept. No complaints.
jp April 12, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Does anyone know of some good bike trails in or near Brookline?
Pam Roberts April 13, 2011 at 11:30 AM
The Charles River has a nice path around it. You can do what I call the Science Museum/Galleria loop: ride across the BU Bridge and just hug the river , all the way around back to BU again. Or, you can take a left after crossing the BU Bridge and travel all the way to Newton and beyond (once you get past Harvard Square, there are fewer people). A tip: if you want to keep traveling when you reach Arsenal Street, you need to proceed into that grassy park across the street. Trust me, it leads you back to the path. There are also opportunities to do some "rugged" riding down next to the river out that way. There are various bridges along the way that you can cross over for the return trip on the Boston side.


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