Afternoon in the Park

Friday my oldest daughter Libby and I went to a park located uptown. I had never been before, but Libby thought it would be a good idea to go and take a few photos. I was not overly impressed.

There was a small playground for little kids, a sheltered pic-nic area which only had maybe 2 or 3 tables under it and a gazebo which was occupied by what appeared to be a couple of thugs. Libby informed me there was a walking trail, and we should go walk on the trail, and maybe we could get some good nature shots. As we came upon the beginning of the trail, there was a very small flower garden, swarming with bumble bees feeding off the flower heads. Libby wanted to take a picture of the bumble bees and really wanted a to get a couple of macro shots, but each time she tried the bee would fly toward her. I, however seemed to have had a couple of calm bees and was able to get a few good photos.

Just as we were about to walk away from the flower-bee garden, a small beautiful butterfly graced us with her presence. She landed on flower and immieadtely began feeding. Her velvet, soft wings were a grayish brown tint, with a hint of soft, tiger orange on the upper wings. For some reason her wings reminded me of a sunset over a dessert. We both were able to get quite a few photos of her before she flew away.

I was really disappointed with the walking trail. For the most part it was quiet, secluded, and no other walkers but us. Ivy, bamboo, and kudzu lined the sides of the trail. The embankment was lined with old, factory mill houses and most of the back yards we could see were over grown with weeds, rusted swing sets, and over grown grass. All this combined seemed to have taken away the beauty I had imagined the trail having. I'm not really sure why, but I thought the trail would have been lined with wild flowers, planted flowers, and more exotic plants.
As we continued down the trail, we came upon the Cambridge Bridge which is now no longer in use. I stopped to take a couple of pictures of the bridge, when Libby stopped me and whispered "There's a homeless person sitting there." I hadn't seen her when I was taking photos of the bridge, but after Libby told me, I stopped. I didnt want her thinking I was taking pictures of her. As we passed by her, I smiled, nodded and said hello. She was dressed a pair of old worn out, dingy, khaki colored pants rolled up to her knees. Her shoes had a hole in the toe, and she had some kind of black cloth wrapped around her headd. Two grocery bags sat beside her, I wondered if it contained all her belongings. She looked up at me, almost as if in shock that I spoke to her. She smiled and I noticed she only had a couple of teeth. I could see the sorrow and pain on her face although she managed to give me just a little smile when I spoke to her.

We continued on down the trail for about a mile, when we came upon another bridge. Libby decided she would climb up the orange clay, dirt wall, and sit on one of the concrete slabs and rest in the cool darkness out of the sun. I went to the other side of the bridge and looked up under it. Up in the corner, was a pillow, a black trash bag and a blanket. I wondered if it belonged to the lady we had seen. I couldn't imagine someone having to live this way, and why some even chose to live this way. Others, falling on hard times, foreclosures, loss of job, might have been forced to live on the streets or trails. Suddenly I thought about my little home, and while I dont have much, Im so very thankful of what I have.

I started taking photos of graffiti on the walls. "We can do better with our lives" was painted on one side of the wall. I wondered, if the homeless painted this masterpiece, or was it just a bunch of bored juvinilles. I heard something behind me, I turned quickly to see a young teen, approaching us on a bicycle. He glared at me as if I shouldnt be there, then he saw Libby sitting up on the concrete slope under the bridge. He turned around and headed back in the direction he came from, only to turn around again and come back toward us. He made me quite nervous. I thought to myself, if he suddenly decided to mug us he would be terribly upset as we had no cash on us, only our cameras. He continued to ride back and forth past us and I acted like he wasn't bothering us, nor scared of him. He popped a couple of wheelies as if he was showing out in front of my daughter and I thought to myself "oh how cool you are little punk". He looked up at Libby sitting under the bridge staring off into space, he did a couple of donuts trying to get her attention. He finally gave up and rode off. I then told Libby I didnt want to walk the trail any longer. It was too secluded, and if we got mugged, raped or attacked, no one would be able to hear us scream. I later found out that trail runs all the way through our town, and even goes behind some parts of the ghettos too. It's the same trail where drug dealers, crack heads, and prostitutes have been arrested. The same trail where they have been reports of muggers. Its sad that the walking trail, which used to be a railroad track, has turned into a trail of crime.

Headed back toward the park, dark clouds began to form in the sky. I knew a storm was brewing, for the humidity was so high we could hardly breathe. By the time, we got back to the car, Libby and I both were dripping wet with sweat. Our mouths parched by the heat and humidity, we gladly welcomed the rain. That night, Libby and I stood out in the rain, holding hands, dancing like kids under the midnight's pouring rain. It was very refreshing, and a perfect end to a wonderful day with my daughter.


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