It’s been the same now for a while. When I feel desperate for the best cheeseburger in town, I head out north from my house to the Encanto Golf Course cafe. A short walk. One and one-tenth of a mile by my GPS. Round-trip, it eats about 30 minutes of my usual languorous noon-hour.
The now well-worn route of mine takes me through the old-money neighborhood of Palmcroft and on up to the quiet battleground that is Encanto Park.
Encanto by description offers the best of city living. A large park with room to roam among the shadows of palms and other tall trees, a large swimming pool, numerous basketball and tennis courts, a patch of sand for volleyball, a softball and soccer field, picnic tables, a large lagoon with a wide array of waterfowl, a boathouse built in 1936 for paddlers, a meeting hall, parking lots and an 18-hole, grass-green golf course with driving range and practice putting greens. And a small cafe.
The tension comes like this. Encanto is surrounded by several historic neighborhoods like Fairview, Palmcroft and, yes, Encanto where home owners increasingly like their peace and quiet. This at a time when an increasing Phoenix population of mostly-young Hispanics and their families are drawn to the park’s soccer field and weekend picnic tables.
Add to that a sizeable number of young black basketball enthusiasts who flock to the courts at night.
The city has countered this activity on weekends with blocked residential streets on two sides of Encanto where it is easiest to park. “Local traffic only” signs bar entrance. And as far as I can tell the signs are obeyed. Park lights go off at 10, just when youth gets rolling.
Whether this irritation at Encanto is measured by decibel, lumen or skin color I do not know. Perhaps all three. I do know there is a growing resentment in town toward the dark races, particularly Latins. As the trend continues, whites in Phoenix will be the minority in a few decades. The salvation, some whites seem to think, is Trump’s Great Wall along the border with Mexico.
In any case I am drawn to this tinge of tension as I stroll through the area armed with only my trekking pole (protection from unleashed dogs), a camera and a backpack loaded with reading materials, notebooks and writing tools.
I plan to post regularly from my walks up to the city’s best cheeseburgers. I will tentatively, maybe permanently, call these posts, “Encanto Walk.”