Sunday, October 20

Park life

The Royal Parks of London are a home from home.
They watch me grow from toddler to child to almost-adult. When I can scarcely walk I am collecting autumn leaves under the trees. My colourful selection is preserved behind glass and lives on the kitchen wall for decades. I am pushed around the parks in my pushchair, one chubby finger pointing out squirrels with delight. I stumble from tree to tree, in and out the dusty bluebells, I spy, hide and seek. I hunt for deer in the bracken, collect conkers. Picnics with other children, ice creams from the van by the playground, vanilla drips over our grubby hands. The chocolate at the bottom of the cone. Handstand competitions, running, racing. I discover I love to climb trees, wriggling up them like a monkey, faster than the boys. We play poohsticks over the bridge in the woodland gardens. My vessel often capsizes. One warm day in October we paddle downstream amongst the swans and ducks. Slides and swings. Another picnic. From sunburn to frozen fingers and back again.
School friends, lying in the grass, counting clouds, forgetting about homework. We talk about boys. Strawberry laces and Converse and headphones. Walks with friends. Walks with more-than-friends. Interlocked hands and kisses behind trees. Sunburn to frozen fingers, back again.
Look at the colours, how they change. Now I appreciate the view. Maybe I'm not really in surburbia, but out somewhere wide open, the west country, the prairie lands of America, big skies. Cutting through the park into town because I like to be outside. Catching up with old friends, cold winter mornings, woolly gloves and scarves. Boxing Day, a trail of cousins and aunts tramp through the bracken towards tea and Christmas cake. Playing on the swings when the park is empty and the children have gone home. Trainers and bicycles, a carpet of star-shaped leaves, a herd of middle-class runners splashing through the mud and the dust. The bleep of the stopwatch, the pain of the final kilometre. Ducks. Stags rut, roar. Leaves fall. Burgundy and amber and mustard and gold.
I love how each season dresses the park, changes how I feel about it. I love autumn's dress best.

1 comment:

  1. This is kind of like a prose poem. Lovely :)
    I also love autumn. I just wish it didn't bring so many spiders with it. And so much darkness. (But then... if the sun didn't sink early, I suppose there would be no golden hour).