Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Walk to the Park (rewrite #2)

The air is still, but every now and then a small breeze flutters the leaf tips and then all is still again. Not enough wind to move the dried brown maple leaf on the ground near the bench. The grey blotchy clouds above are still. They block the sun and there are no sharp, severe shadows. All is muted and blend to dark under the larger trees and bushes. It’s such a quiet place, even when the car horn honks, it sounds way off in the distance. A bus clanks by, and a plane drones overhead. No harsh immediate sounds.

A man, sleeping with his arms crossed, lies on a bench near the garden, his jeans are dirty and a bright blue jacket covers his forehead and eyes. An English sparrow flutters down, with small heart-beat sound of wings, and lands nearby. It picks at the bread crumb specks on the ground. Looking up, surprised, it quickly flutters away.

The center garden is sun-baked dirt and a few weeds. There are dusty rocks and nondescript bushes surrounded by grey cement curbs, cracked and broken. Sunshine yellow marigolds. The orange trumpets of nasturtiums. Purple pansies and red poppies. The colors that should be here are long gone, missing the signs of life and youth.

Once this was a place for laughing children, who played hide-and-seek and tossed their bright balls, soft blankets spread on the grass for sandwiches and naps. Laughter and birds floated among the leaves. There were fewer trees then, still tall, but with wide open green and long soft grass. And when there was sunshine, it was bright and cast long deep shadows in the afternoon. This was a destination for families, and couples would walk along the path, intent on each other. The air felt light and sometimes someone would lean up against one of the old evergreens and nap in the sunshine.

With time, the buildings grew tall around the park and shadowed even the trees. It was still a destination, but now for business men, to escape their dry black-and-white worlds for a spell, and rest among the green leaves and colorful flowers. A place where women met and talked about their day. Children still played there and couples still walked the path, close, intent on only each other. The life of the city grew up around the park, but still the green and space felt good.

Now cars, traffic, and rush to get from one place to the next have replaced the stroll, wanderings and restful quiet. The shadows from giant buildings have leave marks on the park. It has become shades of grey green, the brightness evaporated. A place to go through, no longer a place to relax. No bright spots of colors. A place of green that doesn’t bring with it a feeling of calm and rest. Buses and cars wait for their turn at the light, before lurching forward. A sea-plane hums overhead. The paths now littered with brown dead weeds stuck in the sidewalk cracks.

Now and then there’s a pleasant surprise for those who look up from the sidewalk. A group of tall hydrangea bushes, with colors of the sky, light blues, bright blues, and violet. But it’s easy to miss these and to just quickly walk on by, intent on getting through the park and to somewhere else. No longer a place to wander and rest, it’s an “unsettled place” with people pushing on, heads down, hoping to never catch any one else’s eye.

No comments: