Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer in the city

Spent a lovely evening at one of our favorite places. We packed a picnic dinner, which although passable, wasn't what I would consider nutritious or interesting. (fried chicken, pasta salad, watermelon. Fudge stripe cookies. Yawn.) Despite the boring food (which the kids weren't into anyway, come on, what can compete with the trees and a gloriously green park on a summer evening?) we had a wonderful time. There was a live tango band playing in the pavilion, and lots of family picnics and revelry. Red white and blue balloons, people grilling, kids playing and screaming, dogs barking.

There was, for some strange reason, a pile of freshly pruned branches and twigs scattered about the ground, and for several of the kids at the park, (mine included) this provided fodder for a game I call "gather up the leaves into a pile and throw them into the air"--it was great to see kids ranging in age from 1 to probably 8, all coming up with an impromptu game, then playing together and enjoying nature, despite the fact that they didn't know each other at all. And with no parental involvement or direction. It was cool to watch the game just "happen" spontaneously.

The game ended poorly, as games sometimes do, with one boy, I'd guess him to be about 4, getting mad for some reason, picking up a branch, and just whacking the crap out of a smaller boy, I'd guess to be about 2. The older boy's parents were watching but didn't intervene. The 2 year old wasn't physically hurt, but he was clearly upset and stood off to the side for the rest of the time the game went on. Just watching. It was sad, and I felt a little weird about it. I wanted the parents to intervene, or to have the bully make peace somehow. They didn't seem to care at all about what had happened, they just ordered the boy to the sidewalk with them so they could walk on. I felt sorry for the 2 year old.

L and J saw the incident happen, and stood quietly watching while it was "going down" but quickly moved on. The drama of kid play never fails to surprise me. My kids were over it before I was, although they did lose interest completely in the leaf game after this happened.

L and J each had brought along a doll stroller and had great fun pushing their "babies" (stuffed cat and puppy, respectively) around under the huge, spreading oak trees. After the leaf drama, they resumed racing around and around with the strollers and pretending to "go home"-walking as far away from me as they comfortably could, (always turning around to make sure I was watching them go, and still within their sight), then turning around and racing back to me. Sometimes they even stopped to collect "spaghetti" for me on the way. (stacks and handfuls of thin twigs)

And the trees, oh, these trees were mammoth! And they just felt so, I don't know, happy to me. Was it all the happy people enjoying the first evening of a long holiday weekend, milling about beneath them? Was it the sunshine wrapping each and every leaf in warmth? (I could practically hear the leaves at work, photosynthesizing their bad ol' selves like nobody's business) Was it the fact that today was the first day it's been above 60 in days? Who knows? Who cares?

It's summer in the city. 'Bout time.

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