|Ahh, summer. The majestic palm trees swaying gently in an ocean wind as I hunt the shore for sea shells. Pink and brown and white porcelain – so delicate and fragile, scattered about the sand like bread crumbs at the park. I roll one in my cupped hand, scrutinizing the intricacies of the colors, how the detailed blending recreates the sunrise that is seeping up, up, up, over distant ocean waves.
Yes, if I were in Florida, that is what my summer would be like. But, as a young teen in a bustling urban city – one of the biggest in the US, walking solo among palm trees is but my imagination at play. In my world, it is cars that fly by, not pelicans. Trash I pick up, not sea shells. And ear-piercing sirens that whistle in my ears, not the ocean wind. Which is why to me, the park is my great escape. My escape into the solitude I am rarely provided with, but so long for, in my city-girl life.
Not that I’m alone. As a dog walker, I spend hours in the park every day. Making friends, human and canine, among the expansive maple trees and browning grass. But it’s the joy I feel walking for hours surrounded in nature. The love I feel when the dog I walk, Rose, galumphs after me as I sprint, laughing with bottled up glee, down a narrow dirt path. The awe that surrounds me as I watch a flock of crows, swooping through the trees, and cawing to each other in a language, not I, nor any other human understands. It is that which makes that park so precious to me. Such a distinct part of my young life that even the prospect of chocolate pales in comparison.
Amongst nature, amongst dogs, I feel as if I have found my family. As if I can only be myself when I lean against the rough bark of an oak tree and scribble down the inspiration for my next poem or story. As if I am walking the shores of a sandy beach, miles and miles and miles away.