Time Washes In, Washes OutPosted: June 21, 2008
Back in the 1950’s my mother took me to Fireman’s Park between First and Third Avenues, four blocks from my house. Back then, we always walked. The park was two city blocks long — lots of grass, a few brand new trees, and Mississippi-Delta-scorching-hot. There were sets of big metal swings, a line of tall slides, and a merry-go-round that seemed to always have a muddy moat around it. There was also a big round wading pool, with water about four inches deep to maybe six or eight inches in the middle. There were fountains on each side that would shoot out six feet toward the middle of the pool. It was always filled with little children, joyful noise, and big beach balls.
I went to Cleveland to visit my mother this week and we drove by the park. To my delight, the wading pool [pictured above] is still being used. The other park features have been changed and new ones added and the trees are tall with shade, but there’s still a lot of sun baking down on the old park where I splashed in the wading pool as a toddler, tried to do a loop over the top pole of the swingset, and made lanyards and drank red Kool-Aid at summer morning camp.
Then I took my dog to Bear Pen, a newer park on the western edge of town, where there are tennis courts, ball fields, a walking trail, and a lake filled with ducks. Dad used to walk two miles here every day after his heart attack in the mid-80’s. One day he got cramps in his legs and couldn’t go on, and two women stopped and rubbed his legs and prayed out loud for him, and he was okay. One day I tried to walk with him and couldn’t keep up with his vigor after five new bypasses. My mother took my dad to the park to feed the ducks after he got dementia and wasn’t allowed to drive anymore.
The dog barked at the brown water lapping against the shore in ripples. The ducks hurried away from her, but she was more interested in the moving water than the white and wood ducks quacking and swimming off. She got close to the water and touched it with her nose. She was leashed and pulled me around the lake at the water’s edge, watching the ripples move in and out and flatten. Like time.