Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Water Balloons

This summer is all about water: water falling from the sky (all summer long); water droplets filling the air with humidity; water flowing from public spouts in the playground where children in bathing suits cool off on hot, hot days. But especially, water in balloons. It's all the rage this summer. Children laugh conspiratorially in groups on the corner of 190th and Ft. Washington. They fill up the balloons at the drinking fountain just inside the entrance to the Heather Garden. Then they gang up on the vulnerable ones. The balloons, red, blue and yellow orbs, change shape like ameobas in the children's hands. The children unleash a barrage that arcs up and over the sidewalk, ending in a splishsplash on the pavement. Occasionally, the balloons hone in on a target (a little brother or older sister), and the park fills with squeals of laughter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The butterflies have returned to the heather garden. They chase each other in pairs or flit about singley, lighting up the garden with a mosaic of colored glass. The lavender is abuzz with overgrown bumblebees. They hide amongst the purple flowers. You have to be careful when running your hand over them to catch the scent. The garden is nearing its peak with layer on layer of green. Purple and yellow flowers contrast intermittent bursts of red, and the roses have been blooming uninterrupted for weeks. The tiger lillies have pounced on the hill near the subway stop, turning it into a field of orange. Children stand with boisterous expectation at the Mr. Softee icecream truck just outside the subway stop, then continue into the park with glee, icecream quickly melting and dripping down their chins. I wish these days could last forever.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Keep Me Close

Yesterday on the way to work I walked past an apartment building whose service door was propped open. On the side of the door that normally faces the inside someone had written, "KEEP ME CLOSE", in rough white lettering against a black background. I stopped and looked through the narrow corridor leading inside the building. It was a sunny day. The brightness of the outside contrasting with the shadows of the corridor reminded me of the narrow medieval passageways of Southern Europe. I felt the same wonder as when I visited Italy and Spain, when I had been tempted to stop at every open door and peer into the treasures inside. Then I looked at the door again: KEEP ME CLOSE had a completely different meaning without the final "d". What would have been a statement of exclusion (keep me closed) had been transformed into a welcome: Keep me close, don't let me go.