Moving through the park is more often a matter of dodging the leaf blower than following an accustomed path, if priorities are given to such things. Ancient oaks and maples violently shake loose their vivid color like they can’t stand the sight of the concrete beneath them. If the leaves were just left to their business covering the path, I would be fine with that. But some madman seems to think a loud backpack engine expelling turbo charged air is necessary to move leaves where they don’t want to be.
The trees themselves lean away slightly as this daily disruption breaks the morning calm. If only it had rained today, the leaf blowing menace would have stayed away. Never the less, the leaves have fallen and are blown for now into neat piles, and later the wind will blow them somewhere else and we’ll all meet here tomorrow and do it again until winter comes. I kick a trepid leaf back onto the path.
There are a lot of dogs out walking. The funniest dogs are pairs that are very dissimilar. A black spaniel and a greyhound wearing a lavender sweater make an odd couple. The little dog runs into the lumbering larger dog’s legs and of course the greyhound looks embarrassed by his lavender sweater. I am embarrassed for him as well and he doesn’t make eye contact. The pair and their human stop at the dog bowl fountain for a drink because their human thought it would be cute for them to drink from the dog bowl glued to the ground in the park that has a small constant stream of water gurgling in. After a quick look the dogs move on unimpressed.
The city streets cut through the long narrow park five times and I encounter three types of cars. Those that stop and let me cross, those that didn’t even see me on the curb, and most often those that slow down but don’t slow enough for me to know that they see me. So I wait to see if he is going to stop and he waits to see if I’ll cross. As he slows down considerably but don't stop, he uses hand motions at me and I sway backwards on one foot as I motion to him that he should go but it’s too late and now he is moving forward and I am moving forward but when the car gets to about one mile per hour he hits the brakes and I don’t die.
Crossing the street, I pass a homeless man sleeping under his guitar case, which is over a blanket but under a tree. He is near a bench but not on it, and beside his shopping cart but not in it. Behind him is another tree and beyond us are some squirrels heading towards that tree. Now they are in it. I think this is a lot of prepositions for so early in the morning, so I move on. Beneath him and all those other things are some leaves. I hope the leaf blowing madman doesn’t get to them.
The cigar smoking man is up ahead sitting on a brown wooden bench. He sits right in the middle of the bench with both arms spread out and resting on the back part of the bench to each side. He is looking straight ahead, just smoking. He looks like a cigar smoking eagle going in for the kill, except he isn’t moving. But I am moving, away from his smoke, so I cross to the other path. Eagles can kill you without moving or thinking. I bet he doesn’t even look at the beautiful trees as he sits there. He is probably looking at parked cars or trash.
Here comes the blond girl with the puffy white jacket and the puffy hood. She wears it even when it isn’t too cold, but today I think she’s probably got the right idea since the wind is blowing all over the place. I see her every morning but always in a different part of the park. She is heading the opposite way as always, but today we pass by the art gallery. Sometimes we pass in front of the playground, sometimes after I’ve passed the park but before she has gotten there yet. Sometimes in front of the statue of the little elephant standing on the bigger elephant. I wonder if I left later than I usually do or if she left earlier. Maybe she just didn’t have to sway on a curb and do some synchronized hand motioning with a stubborn car like I did. Probably not, since cars always stop for the ladies.
Burnside Street is equipped with buttons that control a half dozen yellow flashing lights for pedestrians to use to warn cars that a pedestrian is intending to cross and that we are serious members of the community. This tends to eliminate the third type of car-pedestrian encounter outlined above, but sadly many drivers cannot see bright flashing yellow lights and zoom past. I wait patiently and finally am allowed to cross the busier street and I am out of the North Park Blocks.
The park is beautiful and autumn is my favorite season.