By Zerline Hughes
By a miracle, I was able to purchase my very little own piece of the nation’s capital. We’re one exit from Maryland off of I-295 and depending where you face, we can stare across the street into Prince George’s County, Md. We just barely made it, but we’re in D.C.
I bought the place with grant after loan after special program, most thanks the Housing Purchasers Assistance Program aka HPAP because I needed to have a home for These Two. It was a necessity in order for us to feel stable. (see page 7 of the link)
Because the purchase happened amidst my divorce and being newly single, my price point was pretty low but I found this place that needed a bit o’ work and made it ours. You could say our house is in the ‘hood. Heck, it is in the ‘hood. Summertime can get a bit loud; on the Fourth of July, we stray way away from the fireworks overload which just so happens to occur on my corner and, for some reason, not at the park which is only about 8 feet across the street. Friday evenings, folks will set up their portable chairs on the sidewalk and enjoy the elements – legal and otherwise (again, not across the street at the park).
The community, however, is full of great people, professional people, retirees, some whose families settled here in the early 1900s and have remained, some who left the community as youth and returned as parents, and some who, when they do move, they re-settle a just a few streets over- remaining in Eastland Gardens, our diamond in the rough, and what I call Rock Creek Park of Northeast Washington, D.C.
Gems of this community include:
- The Eastland Gardens Civic Association (I’m the webmaster- got some work to do on the site so bear with me);
- The Eastland Gardens Flower Club (I’m an active member);
- Acres upon acres upon acres of land that can never be touched, razed, condominium-ized (including the Kenilworth-Parkside park- don’t ask what happened to our recreation center); and
- The Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.
The Aquatic Gardens is our favorite – the nation’s only National Park devoted to aquatic plant life. It’s pretty darn amazing.
Today was the Aquatic Gardens’ Annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival where about 3,000 people come from near and way far to see the water lilies and lotus flowers in bloom. They’re as big as your head! There’s also snakes and turtles and beavers and water fowl throughout the park. When you’re here, you forget you smack dab in the city. It’s awesome.
Today, I sat at the Eastland Gardens Flower Club table promoting our club, the neighborhood, our community services and our book, “Images of Eastland Gardens,” which I co-authored. My boy was there, traveling from station to station, drawing, learning about the Anacostia Watershed, entering an art contest and sampling South African food (there was a special part of the program ode to the late Nelson Mandela) and Japanese food (a good contingency of the region’s Asian population flock this event as the lotus flower is considered to be a “mythical” plant in Japan).
The people that stopped at our table were enamored by what they saw, what they learned, and jealous that I get to live so close to this community resource. Too many people who live right in the area don’t even realize this place is here!
I want These Two kids to be enamored, too. To understand the value and beauty of nature- especially since we’re blessed enough to have it just a stone’s throw away. It also brings solace, peace and an appreciation for the living things we share the planet with. I also want them to appreciate ownership and understand the importance of taking care of what belongs to them, and help cultivate and maintain our natural resources. This, somehow, in some way, should relay to them that there are options – professional and altruistic – and these options should keep them busy and motivated – and out of the pipeline of negativity.
Hope I’m on the right track!