I’ve noticed that there are always just enough shady trees for all of the moms to park their cars under at a park I discovered recently. The elbow-shaped trunks in the park itself begged for children to scurry up right along with the bushy-tailed squirrels. Some boys instead chose to skid by on skateboards dragging the toes of waffle-sized un-tied athletic shoes beside them. I think I recognized a woman from my gym along with the other moms visiting over a hot metal picnic table that was sure to leave honeycomb-shaped indentations on the back of their legs. Their children corralled in the cooler section of playground; it was tough to tell which group was more content. As I tried to remember the name of the park a fire siren heard some distance away couldn’t detract from the peaceful mood.
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The park rested at the end of an otherwise normal cul de sac in Valencia. Along with the heavily braided tree branches, the long thin reeds of green grass also cooled us. I’d love to see a John Deer lawnmower tool by just so I could be here to smell that grass after a fresh cut. I know that there was a breeze coming because you heard it cut through those same trees, promising to cool us off even more on this unseasonably hot October afternoon.
There is only one other mom sitting on the grass away from the other mothers like me. She appeared completely relaxed as her red-haired toddler tried once again to climb up her calf to her thigh. Her blanket was covered in child-friendly paraphernalia: pacifiers, blankets, shovels and books, cheerios clinging to everything but her child’s sweet smile. I wondered if she was a mirage of myself three years ago, when days like this blended sweetly from one to the next like the perfect part in my babe’s hair.
While Samantha is enjoying her dance class I feel almost decadent sitting here with forty-five whole minutes to myself. Just to contemplate the air! Now and then I’m startled to hear the sound of little dancers tapping away in the community room behind me. I could leave like some of the other mothers hurriedly trying to run just one more errand in a busy day. The Jan Heidt bookstore is seven minutes away, the market is five, the bank two. But… I may be needed for bathroom breaks or to help little feet into tap shoes.
My mom joined me last week and we spent our uninterrupted time discussing our wills and wishes. I didn’t invite Ed this week so he could play on his computer at home for a few minutes alone. I know that if the class went a full hour the guilt, along with the moist grass under my cotton blanket, would seep through and get to me.
I push my creeping thoughts away like tiny little pac-man invaders. No, I really don’t care what we have for dinner, if I get to the car wash today or if I’ll have time to return that phone call. I willed the will to be done without my ever having to leave this park. As I put away my notepad, noting that class had ended quicker than I thought, I decided to worry about it tomorrow. Along with Miss Scarlet, I’d much rather appreciate the land, and the living, today.