Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Park When the Weather is Unseasonal

This weekend, the winter went on vacation. The temperature rose, and the skies turned blue, and Mr Tabubil and I took a nap on the floor in front of an open window, while a breeze blew air at twenty-four degrees celcius across our faces.
            And after that, we went to our park. With the winter somewhere else, it was a rather busy park. The children's playground was one big buzzing sea of primary-colored sweaters (chilean mothers dress their offspring to the season, not the weather*) and away from the pre-teen scrum playing cards and smooching on the benches, the lawns under the trees were practically standing-room only.  It was exactly like one of those cardboard picture books that you give to small children with fascinating and singular activities hapening in every square meter of green grass - 

            Here's a man walking a little Scottie dog on a leash with its white whiskers hanging down, and its long white tail standing up, and its white legs twinkling as it runs.
            Here's a group of little boys playing football with a big red ball almost as tall as they are.
            Here are a young man and a young woman having a picnic. They are sitting on a blanket and drinking wine from long stemmed glasses and smiling at each other, rather foolishly.
           And here's a baby, pushing along a plastic walker that plays Farmer in the Dell over and over and over, while his parents cheer him on and he makes enormous grunting noises with the effort of every step.
            Here's a group of girls with a life-size cardboard cutout of a singer, grinning wildly and taking selfies on their cell phones.
            And here's another baby -  a baby bulldog with great rolls of puppy fat around his shoulders and enormous puppy feet. He's as big as tank, and he's yanking his leash out of his owner's hand and  bounding about the lawn, tangling up the football game, desiring to bepetted by every single person in the whole park, all at the same time. Doesn't matter if they want to. He'll make them want to - he's bigger than they are.
            The baby with the walker is looking hard at the couple on the blanket.  Now, all on his own, he is slanting, unblinking, towards them across the grass, and they are sitting very still, side by side. The woman has put her glass down on the grass and is holding out her arms-
            One f the girls with a cell phone is knocked flat. The puppy bowls over her like a panzer tank, a cardboard cutout with a marvelous white smile goes flying andthe air fills up with screams. The baby with the walker loses interest in the man and woman on the blanket and angles away.  The couple sigh deeply and sit back on the blanket, like puppets whose strings have been cut and the woman reaches out for her wine and drinks, deeply, looking at the grass.
            Above them in a tree, red aerial silks are slung over the highest branch, and another man and another woman practice their twists and falls high above the ground -
           And a Canadian sits with an Australian on another blanket.  They are pretending to read books and watching every single thing -
           We watched until the sun went down, and then sometime in the night, I became cold and dragged an extra blanket up the bed.  And in the morning we woke to a chill, damp fog. The winter was back from vacation and we could scarcely see the building next door.

*Winter is winter and what the weather is actually doing in the streets is an irrelevance. The calendar says that winter starts June 21st, and on June 22, women push strollers filled completely by small humans wrapped in woolly hats and fleece vests and puffy coats and layered over of their padded trousers, hand-knitted woolen leg warmers. And after all that, the occupant of the stroller is buried under so many blankets that half the time you have to take the existence of the baby on faith.
            When Sarah and Miles were visiting us last year, little Laurie was going through a growth spurt. If I hadn't know them I could still have tracked their progress through the streets of Santiago following a chain of Chilean matrons giving them the stink-eye because it was cool enough for a cotton cardigan and when Laurie sat in his stroller his pants rucked up there was an inch of leg visible between the top of his sock and the bottom of his trousers.   
            Dearie me.

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