Thursday brought some morning clouds, making a trip to Andulka Park (5201 Chicago Avenue, Riverside 92507) for an AM romp a no-brainer. This marks the first time since the end of Spring I pulled a long sleeve shirt out for E.M. She loved the bright graphics and rough texture of the thermal top – I loved the fact that I could keep the sunscreen in the trunk. But we hauled the sand toys because this park has some of the largest sand boxes in Riverside.
Now, some may dispute this fact and point to other parks. Others may play word police and claim they are actually volley ball courts. On weekday mornings, when they are crawling with amateur archeologists and future explorers, a functionalist like me says, “If it looks like a [sandbox] and it acts like a [sandbox]…”
And the tree fairy I spoke to would agree. He (yes, they can be guys – Santa may be the most famous fairy alive today) goes by Paul when he is with his granddaughter. Here is why the parks are wonderful and should always be funded, maintained, and used often. It’s the connections they create. And lessons taught.
Before Paul made his true face known, I learned that he worked at Riverside City College (just like me) and he retired in June (just like I want to do!) and he’s not sure he is doing retirement right (I question myself to distraction). He likes Reagan more than I do but we both agreed the mental health issues behind much of the homeless problem in our parks stems from those mental health facility closures that started under his “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach to social services.
An old Gen-X and a young Boomer caring for the girls that will grow to save the world we have made for them. And when we made Andulka Park, we had little more than dirt and space. The City of Trees was devoid of shade. The city planted them but the tree fairy made sure they grew tall and strong.
The Tree Fairy traversed the expanse of the park soon after it was finished. He hand fertilized every single tree. Because he knew they would need the extra support. It was his way of doing his share and supporting a resource vital to the well-being of any city, and every single park in every city.
Now, fairies are odd creatures. They typically know a good deal about a lot of things, yet they become known for just one or two key traits – few people realize that the Tooth Fairy can get your car started in a snowstorm and the Elf on the Shelf can make a sublime PB&J without a knife. Which is why I suggest you get out into parks to talk with them. Don’t rely on what a few writers have put into your books.
This famous quote sums it up best: