Children and dogs and ducks, oh my!
“Honey, do you want to go to the farmers’ market with me?”
“Not really… I’ve got some errands to do, OK?”
“Sure. I’ll go on my own. See you in a couple hours.”
Such was the exchange with my husband Saturday morning as I grabbed my canvas shopping bags and left without him. I had no idea what a gift he was giving me…
Fast forward to me arriving at Roadrunner Park, site of said farmers’ market. It was a whirlwind of activity, and shop I did – for vegetables, organic fettuccine, a Mothers’ Day gift for my mother-in-law, some tiny apricots for my husband’s grandmother, and a small “Moon and Stars” watermelon plant. Of course, I couldn’t walk past The Tamale Store booth without grabbing a couple fresh tamales for brunch.
Making my way to a picnic bench just a few yards away from the hubbub of the market, I noticed how delightful the cool breeze felt. Carefully setting down my wares and fragile watermelon plant, I looked around the park in front of me. I’d been to this park at least a dozen times, but this was the first time I ever noticed the pond. As I peeled the paper wrappers and hojas* from my tamales, I studied the scene in front of me.
A tiny boy, not more than 3, made repeated attempts to hurl a full-size basketball into a regulation-height hoop. The closest he came was brushing the bottom of the net. At the other end of the court, a handful of older boys looked to be playing an actual game, joined by a slightly older girl with a bouncing ponytail. Two women walked past me walking three greyhounds between them. Off to my right and out of my line of sight, I could hear other canines engaged in an enthusiastic exchange.
There were dads aplenty: ubiquitous ones with tots perched on their shoulders; bored dads; relaxed dads; two dads herding four children and pushing two carriages laden with jackets, hats, toys, and shopping bags.
Ladies wandered by with floppy hats and baggy shirts to protect them from the sun. One little boy played alone, strumming his fingers along the pool fence, kicking a rock, and then swinging his arm around a tall light fixture. Only child? Loner? Autistic? I could only wonder. Just beyond him, the playground buzzed with activity. Delightful peals of children’s laughter wafted over from the little ones excitedly sliding and swinging and climbing.
The sight of two ducks splashing around in the toddler pool was icing on the cake as I made my way to my car.
A gift my husband had given me. The chance to sit, alone for a few minutes, and just watch life unfold – phone forgotten, obligations on hold, no rush to be anywhere other than in the moment. How often do we get so busy with our to-do lists, our writing schedules, our networking, our book marketing plans, our JOBs, the needs of our kids and our spouses and our pets, that we forget to take time to simply be?
Just like children need recess (don’t get me started on the ridiculous trend in schools across the nation of cutting recess to “increase classroom time”), we grownups also need rest, relaxation, time out. We need time to rejuvenate. Time to allow creative thoughts to percolate to the top. Time to breathe.
If you haven’t been to a park in a while, maybe it’s time. Go. Sit. Watch. Listen. Enjoy. If you must, take your sketchpad or your notebook – but try leaving your phone in the car. See what fun things come of it.
*Inedible outer corn husk wrapping of a tamale.
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