Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Park For All Seasons

I prefer not to walk Baxter, the big puppy, in my own neighbor despite the obvious convenience—slip on the harness, hook on the leash and off we go—because I hate walking the hills, and for some reason, the place seems desolate. Beside the occasional passing car, you could get to feel like you're the sole survivor after a global catastrophe. So when it's time to walk the dog, I'll often put us in the car and drive five minutes to the town park.

Beyond the tennis courts, there is ball field after ball field, a wonderful playground funded by a women's group that literally baked cookies to raise money, and then a walking area with a kidney-shaped pond, trees and benches. You can walk up one hill to an access road to the town pool, then take that road down the hill to a little bridge, cross a tiny creek, and follow a path back to where you parked the car near the pond. On some days, I'm the only person walking there, but it never feels desolate. That is to say, I never feel as if I'm the only remaining human being when I'm walking at the park.

Baxter seems to like the park. When we pull into the parking area, he can't wait to jump out and smell every smell left by every dog in town. And on some days, like today for example, he went completely nuts over a colony of squirrels chasing each other around tree trunks in spiral fashion.

Since walking at the park these last few months, we've seen it in all of its stages—summer, fall and winter. Here is what we've seen:

The tree line in fall colors.

The water frozen just enough to support sticks people
have thrown onto it, like skipping rocks.

These leaves left over from fall are completely
frozen just below the surface.

Baxter smells the world in every leaf.


And finally, winter is here.

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