Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Trip In The Park

Two spheres, one on top of the other, like a portly snowman in August. The larger of the two spheres is blue while the other, slightly smaller, is more brown. This is one sick snowman.

I went for a walk in the morning, when the sun was weaker and the day was spread vast before me like an unread book, rife with possibility. My purple sketchers bounce across the hot pavement as I go, marking time, marking distance, marking where I've been but not where I'm going.

I snake up and down the friendly avenues, winking at the wilting people who adorn unkempt front lawns. I know they are thinking "How can anyone willingly be puttering around in this heat?" while I am thinking "How can anyone just sit there in this beautiful sunshine?"

When I have walked enough, I duck into the park near my home. I stand, draped across a chain link fence, to watch the 3 year olds take swimming lessons in the kiddie pool. I stand shoulder to shoulder with proud grandmas, each anxious to point out their precious angels to me so that I can admire each one in turn.

I turn to go, scampering down the mild incline shaggy with unmown, emerald green grass. The sun is red and high in the sky, smiling down on the top of my head, cutting my shadow short. My ponytail swings out the back of my hat, keeping rhythm to a dance that is bigger than just me, the park, or the city. And then suddenly, a blip in perfection:

The toe of my right shoe catches in a divot in the lawn. I stumble, but I don't fall. I catch myself in time, and have a small smile of triumph on my lips as I reclaim the foot that is rightly mine. But I am overenthusiastic in doing so; the newly freed foot has so much momentum that it crashes into my left calf. It is such a forceful hit that I kick my leg right from under me. For a split second, I am suspended in the air, no feet on the ground, just long enough to think "Uh oh". And before I can even feel myself drop, I feel the impact. Left elbow and tailbone absorb the hardest blows but I can't think of the pain because the wind has been knocked out of me, and breath is the only thought my mind can form.

I am lying on the grass; green blades tickle my neck as I gasp for air. Finally, when my lungs are restored, I am receptive to the shooting pain in my elbow, but I repress that for a minute more so I can burn with shame and embarrassment. The park is teaming with witnesses to my exercise in dis-grace. I pick myself up, and plaster a too-wide phony grin on my face. I limp home, shaking off clumps of dirt that persist in clinging to me, evidence of my failure to master my own limbs.

The next day I have all but forgotten my accident when I discover the snowman. Upon closer inspection, I see 3 dots right where his buttons should be. But they're not buttons, they're freckles. The freckles shine through the awkward bruise on my calf, a discoloured August snowman sent to remind me of my trip in the park.

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