The oaks are lightly touched with the first tints of rust and gold and the cool breeze, bearing the scent of dying leaves, sets the birches shimmering like a Klimt painting. The clouds are thin and stretched like cotton gauze across the sky.
The stream which has been so dry for so long is wet again from last weekend’s rains. A few ducks investigate the yellowing reeds along the bank as a lone man, head down, hands in pockets, slowly walks along the stream pensively looking into the slowly flowing water. He passes an old lady sitting on a park bench wearing a red knit hat, her hands grasping a long leash that holds in check a jumping white poodle who is trying to chase a squirrel scrabbling in the grass for nuts.
An oversized van pulls up and the occupants disembark. Two white-haired crones sitting in shiny steel wheelchairs slowly roll down the path that leads to the pond. They are soon followed by two red walkers and one blue, pushed by two women and a man, shoulders bent, heads down, eyes to the ground, feet shuffling. The young black man who has driven the van pulls up the rear, his arms filled with brown paper lunch bags. Stumbling after them he loudly exhorts, “Be careful how you go!”
Nearby, the fountain shoots white plumes high above the pond. Splashing down they pepper the surface of the water to create thousands of ripples that race outward like the young boy wearing inline skates who speeds by, body crouched, head forward, hair streaming as he rounds the corner of the path and disappears. He is pursued by a teenage boy riding his skateboard like a surfer, birdwing arms out-stretched, baseball hat blocking the sun from his eyes.
Strollers filled with wide-eyed babies pushed by tired young mothers rumble by while an old man pulls a shopping cart piled high with old clothes and plastic bags. A thin woman wearing scuffed sandals and a Mumu holds a Chihuahua under one arm and carries a bag in her hand. Methodically stopping at each trash barrel, she selects only the best bits of discarded lunches and recyclable cans.
Two wolf-like German shepherds determinedly pull a small man wearing a yellow shirt and pass a young woman wearing a black t-shirt and gold chains around her waist. Meanwhile a large white labradoodle named Marilyn and a small brown terrier named Ted lead a beautiful black girl down the path and bark at the paper bag somersaulting across the field.
A gaily painted purple van arrives and a party planner quickly erects a large yellow canopy that will mark the center of the coming celebration and provide the proper setting for the multi-tiered birthday cake and bobbing yellow and orange balloons. A small boy with blond curls accompanied by his short father and tall mother is soon joined by children who scamper from arriving cars, their voices high and chirping with excitement.
A passing cloud hides the sun and the air cools instantly. Then the sun peeks out, blinks, and disappears again. A lone crow calls plaintively in time with the noontime bells of a nearby church.