Monday, March 24, 2014

On The World

I was in Blackfoot a few days ago, killing time while waiting for an appointment, and on a warm early spring day that was filled with watery sunshine, I walked a short ways at a park in back of town.
It is a huge park.  A wonderful place for locals to relax out of doors without having to travel outside the city limits.
LC, Kory and I visited this place a couple of months ago when it was still deep winter.  The sun was shining and I had a bright idea to eat lunch at the park, which turned out to be not such a bright idea because it was freezing cold outside.
Alone together at this park, we ended up quickly scarfing down burgers and fries and then heading back to the truck.
Two months later the day was warm and the park was filled with people eager to enjoy the first signs of spring.
The park contains a wonderful variety of attractions designed for people of all ages.  Covered picnic areas, open picnic tables, a huge still-dry lake for swimming and boating, play equipment, a skate park, basketball courts and more.
In back of this large city park is both a small aircraft airstrip with hangars, and a golf course.
A long paved green-way walking/cycling path circumnavigates the entire complex.
As I climbed out of the truck I stood for a moment and looked around me, trying to get the lay of the land.
Looking at my watch I realized that I still had a couple of hours before I had to be somewhere else.
More than enough time to explore.
Turning to my right I headed for the very large covered picnic area that overlooks the lake.
One lone seagull caught my attention and I absently snapped this picture of him waddling in the brown and ungrowing grass, before realizing that he was actually one of a handful of seagulls and the others were floating on the wind over the park...................
After snapping this picture I read the sign more closely and then smiled to myself.
Swimming in roped area only.
The lake would be filled with water, and laughing and screaming kids would overtake this park soon enough, but on this day I looked beyond the sign and saw only a bone dry hole in the ground.
Swimming in roped area only.
When I was here with LC and Kory during the winter the entire park felt abandoned and perfectly quiet.
Looking at the uneven dirt on the bottom of the lake I could already hear the kids that would soon be here.  
Looking to my left I could see and hear the traffic on the Interstate.
This park was beginning to come to life again, and that returning-to-life would continue to pick up speed until it was filled with green and people and water and motorized and non-motorized boats through the summer...........
Walking up the ramp of the picnic shelter I sat down at one of the picnic tables and looked again out over the dry lake, wishing that it was filled with water already.
There were kids on the play equipment behind me.
Walking on the grass on the opposite side of the shelter was a young father with his toddler.  A pretty little girl who I guessed was not yet two.
I watched them for a moment and then looked away, focusing again on the lake.
On the world but not in it....................

On the world but not in it.............

Many years ago when I was young and strong and very fit I ran.  A lot.
I was in college at the time, going through a divorce and fighting a custody battle for my two little boys, when one morning I ran on a day very much like this one.
I had an old school walkman that was clipped to the elastic waist of my running shorts, and I ran often while listening to an old cassette tape of the music from the movie Top Gun.
Eventually I found my way to a park also very much like this one and (still listening to music) climbed up onto a picnic table, sitting and resting for a few moments and enjoying the beautiful day before continuing on with my run.
As I sat on the table section of the picnic table I looked over and saw a young father playing with his toddler.
The small child was a little boy about the same age as Chris, and as I watched them playing and laughing together I listened to a song on my tape called Take My Breath Away
Even after all these years I still can't listen to that song without thinking about that man and his little boy, and the sheer sadness I felt in those moments while sitting and watching them at that park, because my boys were not with me.
By the time the song was done I was already running again..................
One of a handful of ramps that will soon lead down to the water.............
I was both pleased and surprised to see this Life Jacket Loaner Station.
I had not seen one since living in Alaska, and when I first saw such a station in Juneau it had caught me by surprise.
Life jackets left out for public use in Tennessee would have been stolen immediately..................
I had been slowly wandering on the grass and taking random pictures without paying much attention to what was around me.
After leaving the life jacket station I turned, crossed through a wide span of grassy area and began to head back the way I had come.  The basketball courts, play equipment, skate park - all were located at the opposite end of the park...................
It was a nice city park.  A way for residents and visitors to enjoy outdoor activities without having the travel.
But in truth it was far too civilized of a place for my taste.
None stop traffic on the Interstate.  Signs for parking areas, signs reminding that you swim at your own risk, signs for life jackets, signs showing direction of traffic, signs reminding boat owners that there was a $5 launch fee, signs reminding bathers that there was no lifeguard on duty and swim between the ropes and you might get jock itch from swimming here, and on and on.
It was a nice place to kill an hour of my time, and it was a nice place for skate boarders and kids and parents and grandparents to kill some time on a day when everyone had spring fever.
But still far too civilized for my taste.................
Absently wandering, I continued slowly moving from one end of the park across to the opposite end of the park.
Passing the skate board park and passing the basketball courts, I headed towards an even larger covered pavilion than the one where I had first started my slow walk.
A huge covered area, it contained fire pits against two opposite walls and numerous picnic tables.
They don't have such things in SE Tennessee, but I can never see covered pavilions and fire pits now without thinking of Juneau...................
It is not usual for me to nap during the day, but after sleeping badly for a number of days I napped a couple of afternoons ago.
And dreamed of Sean.
That night I dreamed of Sean a second time.
I only remember pieces of the dreams.  Small shreds of stories created by a subconscious that was overtired.  
I can still see his face.  Hear his voice.  Feel his skin underneath my hand as I reached up to caress his face.  Hear his laugh after telling me one of his stupid jokes..................
After inspecting the pavilion and looking out over one more play park, I turned, crossed through the empty basketball court and headed towards a group of kids happily skateboarding without helmets or elbow pads or knee pads.
Laughing with each other.  Easily performing their outrageously dangerous maneuvers on skateboards and scooters.................
I watched the daredevils for a long time, enjoying the ease and effortlessness of their physicality.
Looking down at my watch I realized that I still had way too much time to kill.
It was a nice day, but boredom derived from restlessness was beginning to set in.
I wandered back towards the truck, and as I did I impulsively reached into my jacket pocket, scrolled down through my contacts and hit the button when I found the right number.
Hi Doc!  How you doin?  Staying out of trouble??
As I listened to this old man (that I had met in Cody) happily babble on in his self-absorbed way about his life and only his life, I found a picnic table in the sun, sat down, and listened to him babble.
Twenty minutes later I hung up the phone, got up from the table and headed towards the truck..............
In the movie Terminator II there is a dream scene.
Sarah Conner had been carving text into a wooden picnic table with a knife when she falls asleep.
In her dream she can hear mothers and children laughing as they play together in a children's play park.
Dressed in black military combat clothing she walks over to the high chain link fence, interlocks her fingers in the chains and watches the families for a moment.
Violently Sarah begins to shake the fence while also silently screaming at the families.
When nobody hears her she shakes the fence even more violently, her silent screams become even more frantic, and her body language tells us that she desperately wants to get the attention of the park dwellers.
Eventually a young mother with young boy-child looks in her direction, silently searching for the source of the noise and disruption.  
The young mother has curled hair and is dressed in stay-at-home-mom clothes and is also Sarah Conner.
Just as the two Sarahs recognize each other the nuclear explosion occurs.  
All the mothers and children are instantly incinerated in place.  
Sarah, the warner of danger, catches fire and we watch as she is burned alive.
She wakens with a start......................

It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.............Kim Stanley Robinson 

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