Since we suffered through a week of rain here in New York City and the suburbs ending yesterday, there wasn’t much opportunity for outdoor pleasures. This wasn’t just any kind of rain, but more of a pounding and unrelentingly forceful torrent of water dumped by a seemingly wrathful and stagnant bunch of clouds stuck in place over the region. It rained more in the previous seven days than it had in all the days of the summer that proceeded this season of autumn, and it became rather depressing being caught up inside the gloomy house looking out at the increasingly dismal gray heft of sky and rainfall each day.
The last two days have been conversely lovely. The cool breeze, the changing colors of the leaves, and the smell of burning wood in fireplaces has invigorated me. As I walked around the streets and then the park near my home, I felt tinges of memory that sparked pleasant thoughts. The burnished houses, porch rails, and fences sparklingly bright and dry in the sunshine after so much rain, looked almost like cut-outs against the cobalt blue sky. I remembered days like this in my youth, especially on weekends, as leaves fell and footballs sailed through the air, with school on Monday seeming only a remote possibility.
In the park the bushes and hedgerows, chiseled into perfect geometric shapes by diligent park attendants, had flurries of flaming red swiped across them as if done by a mischievous lad with a paintbrush. The towering maples drooped lustrous arms with dapples of orange and yellow slicing through their limbs, and the old lumbering oaks’ limbs swayed in the stiff wind, giving up only a few brittle brown leaves while dropping copious amounts of acorns on the paths and lawns.
The squirrels were having a fiesta on the grassy patches, scooping up their booty and racing off to their little nooks and crannies in the patchwork of branches above my head. I sat on the bench watching parents walking with little children, their jackets zipped firmly up to chins against the gusts of wind. I recalled walking with my own parents on days like this, racing over to the swings or monkey bars and liking the rush of cold metal bars against my hands. Now the park features wooden jungle gyms with colorful plastic connecting tubes, yet sorrowfully lacking in the stark adventure that a climb to the sky on monkey bars used to provide. The swings are plastic as well now, and the ground beneath is carefully protected by a synthetic cushiony substance. While safety is important, the thrill didn’t seem to be there for me anymore looking at these things, though the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.