We stopped at the corner of 24th street and 27th avenue for there was a bull-dozer there, expanding the large hole in the two lot area that has been cordoned off by a high orange wire grated fence. Engineers were measuring spaces with long surveying tape. The dump truck was backed into the lot next to the excavator and the operator was swinging his cab in 360 degree circles, digging at some spots and tamping down others, getting himself in just the right position to eat away at the dirt. When the dump truck was full we waved him good-bye and continued to the park, picking the blue dried berries from hedges, and jumping in the ice-covered puddles of back alleys. Both of us were amazed by a fence, the posts of which were red brick and the fencing between which were huge wagon wheels – 15 of them. I casually wondered where all of the chassis must have gone but no use asking Michael that question.
We talked about the sizes of the dogs who were also out for walks. And we were the first to see Sage and Ramone, two full-sized poodle dogs who came to the park directly from their morning at the groomers. “They need a run after their trims this morning. Come and feel how soft the top knot is and how wonderful their fur feels,” said the owner. We also learn where the owner puts the poop from his own dogs that he has been picking up from their run and we learn why the poodles are using their noses to sift through the grass. “Oh, they are looking for rabbit poop to eat,” he said, trying to get them to move on.
Michael and Alice explored the playground equipment. Alice knows how to climb up the stairs of the slide and between its slope and the nylon of her snow suit she goes shooting off the end of it, laying in the gravel as though she is a snow angel, then getting up and running for its slid stairs again.
She will swing forever in the baby swing. Michael is not ready to sit on the big swing, but he will lay over its seat, balancing the weight of his upper body and his lower body, hanging there, occasionally propelling his feet through the gravel to get a little swing to the left or the right, or twisting in circles so that the chains become tight and will swing him around, jerking his body as it gets fully open and then twists itself half way up again.
I am enjoying the symmetry of the park: the ball diamond and its bleachers now ghostly in their isolation. I also enjoy they texture of the boards of the skating rink now in place, their knots and rough texgure now squaring off the area of ground waiting to be flooded for winter skating.
I notice the gravel in the play area is full of small sticks, different lengths. I pick up a big one and begin to draw lines in the gravel. That looks like a game that Michael wants to play so he takes the stick and I follow behind him, skipping back and forth over the lines he is drawing. I am singing, “I had a little teddy bear, his name was Tim ….” Michael can’t help himself and he draws the lines all over the play area, for now he is the puppet-master with a crazy grandmother skipping and singing behind him.
I can’t help myself but I finally must stop skipping.
I begin to clean up, gathering the small sticks that I have been jumping over and around. Now I am collecting them into bundles, taking them across the alley to the compost bins that are lined up behind each home there. Michael sees me and wants to join in the clean up. He wants me to pick the sticks up and carry them just to the edge of the alley. He will take them the rest of the way. That makes me laugh and I cooperate.
I can’t get the kids to leave the park. Well, that should read, I can’t get Michael to pack up and leave the park. Alice is compliant. I make many attempts to start leaving but he looks so sad and says “No grandma,”. Why should I persist. What could be happening at home that is more fun than walking barefoot in the gravel, for now he has his boots and socks off.
Earlier in the morning, on our 6 am walk, Richard told me that this was the first morning where the temperature had dipped below zero. I am sure it must have been warmer by the time Michael had his shoes off in the park, but I do wonder.
We head for home. Today we are using the new two-seat stroller his mother bought. Michael hasn’t used the seat of the new two-person stroller so that he can sit by Alice yet. It is just that having the option of going there, makes it so that he isn’t compelled to need her seat.