He has one he loves, and he tells his mom where to turn to get there when they're in the car, but for a bit of a change, we took a different route and ended up at this little park. It's actually in Glendale rather than Phoenix, and it's a small park with a pretty nice small playground that includes drums. I had to love that. I even got a photo of Little Boy playing the outdoor drums similar to one I have of my son playing outdoor drums at an amusement park way back when he was little.
I was most attracted, though, to the little pond with a water fountain. So, we took a walk around the pond where there happens to be a statue:
From this view, it looks like a little girl perched on a rock as she looks out over the pond and fountain. That, in itself, would be charming, but when you move to a different angle, this is what you see:
It's actually a little girl pulling a little boy up onto the rock with her.
The thing about the park that took most of our attention were the inhabitants of the picnic tables scattered around the area. Four or five of them held adults sitting under shade of shelter or trees, complete with their belongings. Now, being from a small rural area, this isn't a normal sight for us. It was a bit of a shock, actually. Everyone hears about "the homeless," but how many of us see them? It was a beautiful day for November, quite warm, and the fun of our park time with the grandson we only see on occasion was sobered by sympathy for these people who had no comfortable home to go back to after enjoying the park. What can we do? we wondered.
As we were getting ready to leave, I was charmed by a group of older men that claimed the nearby table and sat down to play cards, like in the movies you see so often. That's also not something we see anymore. Way back when in my little hometown, there was a group of older men who used to sit and gossip on the bench in front of what used to be the hardware store. They're long gone now and I expected so were the days of card and checkers and gossip (yes, men do gossip) in a public gathering place. It was nice to see and I had to snap the photo.
If you look at that photo closely, you will also see the other inhabitants of the tables, not there to play games.
Just before we left, a small car pulled into the parking space and three boys barely in their twenties got out and scouted the area. I'll admit it made me a bit nervous. They were walking quickly and went around the perimeter of the park space pretty fast and I was glad we were leaving, wary of their intent, especially having the 2-year-old and our very expectant daughter out there.
Then, those boys returned to their car, open the trunk ... and pulled out bags of bottled water and plastic zip bags full of snacks and proceeded to take them around to all of the picnic table inhabitants.
Not what we expected. The news is full of stories that can't help but make you wary. But when we saw the scene from another angle, the story was fully different.
Because the news is also full of racial strife stories, I'm going to add that the homeless and/or mentally challenged (since it's impossible to tell the difference without talking to them) were black and white, male and female, and the group of boys were both black and white, working together to help their neighbors. There was no strife. None of them feared the others. They were only making a simple acknowledgement of what the statue plaque says: we must rise together.
It was a lesson well learned, and I post it here in hopes that we can all look beyond the stories flooding us, the one-sided stories full of strife, and start seeing it from other angles. Who was it who said: Look for the helpers in a catastrophe? They're always there. And remember there are far more helpers and helpful spirits than those who mean harm. There are. We only have a harder time seeing them.
I wish all of us a beautiful and more peaceful 2017. That will only happen if we help make it happen.
art credit: Rising Together [1994, bronze, Dennis Smith at Bonsall Park, Glendale AZ].