The wind is whipping the trees around madly, and crows diving in and out of the currents. Soon the fog will be back, but right now the late afternoon light is misty and white and the mountains across the bay are blurred and blue, like some mystery land just out of reach.
It’s at least 20° colder in the city than in a town less than 20 miles east where my daughter works at a preschool. I met her there midday to take charge of my four-year-old granddaughter, M, while her mom went to a curriculum planning meeting. M was starving after a morning at school, so we went to a small cafe nearby, sat at the counter and had lunch (chicken tenders for her, a BLT on rye for me), discussed school, her teachers, the kids she liked, whether the picture of bacon and eggs on the menu was the same as the one on the wall, whether the man on the stool next to us was going to call the police because M had said he was fat (he wasn’t), and why we had to wait for the waiter to take our money before we could leave. Then we walked to the park.
It’s a wealthy suburb and a beautiful park, you’d never know what a troubled world it is–a huge grassy area in the middle, playgrounds for both young and older kids on either side, a tennis court at one end, the “liberry,” as M calls it, at the other–the kind of park I wish we had in our city neighborhood, though a little unnerving that M was the only brown-skinned person in sight. She hooked up with some of her buddies from school, and I found a shady bench and took in the scene. Lots of moms were pushing children in swings. One dad was texting or checking his emails. A grandpa, rather stiff and bent from arthritis, whirled his squealing granddaughter in the tire swing.
Pretty idyllic except for the yellow jackets that followed me from bench to bench. I had no food with me, but maybe they smelled bacon from lunch. Dastardly little critters. Yellow jackets, ravens, and blackbirds were the wildlife, pretty typical for a summer afternoon in a suburban park. I heard one kid pointing out a raven as a vulture to her mom and explaining the blackbirds were its babies. The mom said tentatively she thought it might be a crow, but the child was firm. Then as though a bell had rung, all the parents and children left. M said we should go too, since there were no kids to play with anymore.
A walk to the post office to mail a letter, to the ice cream store for a cup of vanilla with multicolored sprinkles, then back to her mom for M and home through traffic for me, accompanied by Patty Griffin’s “Making Pies” (thanks ROS):