Instead of visiting the local park several times a week as I did in years past, my visits now, due to arthritis, are limited to just a few times a month. But today the glory of the autumn sun and the cool breeze traveling up the delta prove an irresistible inducement.
Getting from the car to the grass carrying the lawn chair is challenging but I soon find a spot that is ideal. As I sit and watch, I reflect how man depends on clocks to know what time it is and sets them back and forth to match his mood – so unlike the trees that are guided by solar tempos and are now changing into their autumn colors.
A squirrel scans me from beneath a nearby tee, sitting on his haunches, tail twitching as his small black eyes probe to evaluate the threat I may represent. Slightly reassured, he makes a quick dash across the open grass, one eye on me, the other on the large oak to my left. Once arrived the squirrel seeks the safety of high branches and startles a large black crow.
The crow who raucously caws at a squat Japanese man wearing a large straw hat who trots by, his forward-looking eyes ignoring the young lady jogging with her two pit bulls stepping in military precision. They are followed by two chattering women and a snuffling Schnauzer who briskly make their way towards the pond, slipping in and out of the sun and shade cast by the trees.
A car pulls up and honks. A short broad man with a bald head emerges and hurries across the field, arms waving, to attract the attention of a backpack-wearing young Indian man. Apologies and explanations about missed directions are shouted until they meet and shake hands. They walk towards a picnic table and soon brochures and iPads are brought out as they discuss new business opportunities and over seas call centers.
A man wearing a Yankee’s jacket struggles with a Labrador pulling on his leash while he helps a small boy climb the monkey bars. A bent man with the raveled gray hat is slowly limping around the playground, stopping first at the sliding board, then pausing for a moment near the swings.
Is he perhaps remembering a father who pushed a swing as he tried to touch the sky? Is he perhaps remembering a mother who clapped her hands the first time he slid down the sliding board alone? He is perhaps remembering what it is to be five years old and have his whole life stretched out ahead like a golden road?
The sun slides into a new position and I feel the morning chill. I carry my folded lawn chair in one hand, the cane in my other. My knees creak and my feet shuffle. As I near the car, I reach out to steady myself so that I don’t stumble. I feel the car’s solid, immovable mass beneath my hand holding me up.
Then it suddenly occurs to me that I am being supported at all times by everything around me. I am never left to fend for myself. When I’m at home, I travel across the room, lightly balancing against a chair, steadied by a wall, upheld by a table. Friends and family appear and help me do the little tasks that now are so difficult.
Everywhere I go, I find support in all directions. When I reach out something solid and deep and dependable that keeps me steady. I drive home elated. Without realizing it, all these years, I have been held by angels in disguise.