Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lucy in the Park

Lucy and I went to the park this morning, before the thunderstorms that rolled in later that afternoon. We hadn't been to this particular park in a while, though it's the closest one to where we live. But she got it in her head that she wanted to go to the swings and I couldn't say no. I think what she really wanted was to walk down the block, the swings providing a convenient excuse, and since I did too we set out.

It was gray outside, warm and gusty, and I was glad that Lucy had insisted on bringing along her small jacket that for some reason she refers to as her raincoat. As we walked down our block and across 6th ave., Lucy stopped at every house and noted what was already familiar to her (the statue of Mary, the lighthouse on the lawn, the porcelain cat in the window, the house where the kids live, the flag etc.) or what was novel (the car in the driveway, the lady in the window, the streamers hanging from the tree from what must have been a birthday or a baptism, a real cat in a different window). She strolled, she dawdled, she had me lift her up so she could walk on the concrete barriers. Our progress was slow.

In the street next to the park, there was an empty B-16 bus parked in the bus stop. Its engine was off and there was no one nearby. Every time another bus passed it the driver of the passing bus gave a token honk of acknowledgment that was never returned. Lucy is always aware of buses and she duly pointed this one out. And where it was sitting reminded her of the ice cream truck that usually parks just ahead of the bus stop and she reminded me, with a wrinkled brow and a tone of reminiscence that clearly held out hope for the present, of the time we got ice cream. Later when we went to leave, the bus had gone and neither of us had seen it go, though it was visible from everywhere in the park.

When we entered from the far side, over by the checkerboards, we saw no one else except for one young father and his year old daughter who were just finishing up on the swings. We exchanged pleasantries but it seemed strange that we should both be there; had there been a crowd or had it been either one or the other of us, that would have made the scene unremarkable, but there being just the two (four) of us underscored the strangeness of it, and so they left.

Lucy wanted to go on the swing and she loved going higher and higher, and then she wanted to go on each of the four remaining swings as well, relishing the freedom to do so as much as the swinging itself. And then when she was done, we went on the kiddie slide and the other equipment. She also wanted to go on the older equipment, which is usually overrun by the bigger kids. It has a bigger slide and higher places to climb. So we did, relishing as I did the freedom to do so.

We played at various things for half an hour or more. It wasn't until we went over and sat on the bench near the stone frog that the strangeness of it all struck Lucy too. We sat there and chatted, and she kind of looked around from time to time not knowing what to do. The wind picked up a little bit and Lucy got down to make one more perfunctory round of the equipment. But her heart wasn't in it and she only made it halfway up the steps to the slide. Instead she came over and without saying she wanted to go home let it be known that it was time for us to leave.

So we strolled home just as slowly as we had strolled to the swings, and we looked at all the same things we looked at on our way there. And now all those novel sights we saw when we came were part of her stock of familiar things as we returned, except that the lady had left the window and the car had gone from the driveway, but those streamers were still there, blowing more stiffly in the rising wind.

When we got home Lucy related to Johanna with all due enthusiasm what we saw and did, and within half an hour it was pouring.

1 comment:

Mary Anna said...

After seeing some recent photos (send some, please!) I can see this scene unfolding. Beautifully told.