My life has been a whirlwind lately and outside of taking gorgeous pictures at the lake, I haven’t had much time for the artsy side of me. My friend Kim must have somehow known that I needed both a respite from thinking about the best way to build a website and the amplified quiet in my house. I wonder if she also knew that it has been a long time since I’ve taken myself out on an artist’s date.
Five hours after returning home from Raleigh I headed back to the airport to drop Christian off for a 9:15 am flight to Nebraska. I95 is unpredictable. The likelihood of an accident, road construction, heavy traffic, or a combination of reasons for a delay necessitates leaving for the airport a minimum of three hours before the departure time.
I checked my phone after a much-needed nap and listened to a voice-mail from Kim. Before I could talk myself out of it I returned her call.
“Hey Kim, it’s Beth. Thank you so much for the invite. I’d love to meet up with you and your friends tomorrow.”
“Awesome! We’re meeting at Playwicki Park to paint. Do you know where it is?” She asked.
“Umm, nope. If you send me the address I’m sure I can find it. Is it ok if I bring my camera to take pictures and a sketchbook? I’m still not ready to paint,” I said.
Kim replied, “It’s a bunch of artists and whatever you want to do is fine. I’ll send you the directions and see you tomorrow morning. Looking forward to it.”
My GPS didn’t find Playwicki Park (it’s a fun word, I had to say it again) so I printed out Mapquest directions and headed out for my date. It turned out to be easy to find and a brick archway at the entrance welcomed me to my destination. Not one, but three bridges spanned the brown river. Two grand structures designed to support the weight and speed of a train and one smaller bridge which easily bears the crossing of a car.
I think the weather must have been specially ordered: sunshine, blue skies, low humidity, and a slight breeze. I don’t know if it’s possible, but I think it made the greens greener and the contrast between colors more vivid than usual.
I helped Kim carry her easel and paints to the river bank where the other ladies were already set up. She scoped out a spot, hooked Cosmo (aka the best-behaved dog in the world) up to a tree, and settled in to paint. That was my cue to wander with my camera.
The view of the bridges was breathtaking. But it wasn’t the water or the history that captivated me. It was the playground. It reminded me of a ghost town. Something was missing. There were swings and things to climb on as well as slides and see saws or as I call them, teeter totters. It may sound strange, but I would swear it was begging for kids. The playground felt lonely.
I haven’t seen a playground with old fashioned swings and slides for years. There was nothing made out of plastic with the exception of the swing seats. It brought back fond memories and made me a bit sad at the same time.
Today, we don’t often hear the squeals that mean “you pushed me too high, but I really want to go higher.” Let alone the bump of a teeter-totter in the sand or the sound of wax paper against the surface of a slide. Why is that?
Have we as parents opted for Disney World and jet skis in an attempt to provide ‘fun’ for our children? Have we forgotten that perhaps what they need is to experience is some imagination accompanied by exercise?
I don’t pretend to know what’s right and I know that times change. However, I couldn’t help but watch the artists painting on the bank of the river as so many have done before and wonder if we haven’t lost something that might be important for the next generation.
Are we forgetting how to observe the world around us without taking it for granted? Are we neglecting the simple pleasures in life? There is so much to experience that doesn’t require a Visa or MasterCard.