Covid, cars, kids, and carousing

Explanation below!
All photos by Snaotheus and KrisDi. I’ve taken to not taking photos so I can just enjoy the experience.

In a year that’s contained more unpleasant, un-useful, frustrating, and annoying days than anyone ought to have to contend with in a lifetime, it’s easy to pick out the high spots. One of those was when Snaotheus and fam came up to give—give!—me KrisDi’s old car after she got a new one with more seating. (Its name has always been Trent, but it’s been seductively whispering “Moriah” to me lately…)

This occurred, I gather, because they knew I’d never be able to afford another car and really needed to move from stick to an automatic, because shifting gears with a torn rotator cuff–even after having a new clutch put in–and, with an arthritic knee, managing a clutch in heavy traffic is, well, less than in the “optimal comfort” range.

So early in August, up they came, Chilkoot and Chilkat in their spiffy new way-back seats, and dropped off the car. Since I hadn’t seen them for a few months, it was quite a day, even though we all did masks and as much distancing as we could. I dragged out a clean bath sheet to serve as a spacer, so we could hug without transferring germs to each other. Who cares if the towel dies a miserable death, right?

I’d put together a list of outdoor places I thought the kids might enjoy, so after we went to the DMV to do the transfer paperwork, we headed up to Big Rock Garden, which seems to be fairly unknown in B’ham but was the first park I learned about when I moved here. It’s packed with artworks, mostly sculptures and art installations, by artists from all over. It’s very much touchable, though you aren’t supposed to climb on the art. The tree canopy made it slightly chilly and damp, the trees occasionally dripped a bit of dew on our heads, sunlight glowed a translucent green through newly unfurled leaves, and the kids ran up and down and around on the hilly paths to their hearts’ content. They seemed to enjoy it and Snaotheus and KrisDi took photos of them Appreciating Art.

Chilkat got into the spirit of trying out the art (yes, the gloves were hollow).
And who puts a roly-poly statue of a mom and baby up and doesn’t expect littles to climb into her arms?
I’ve forgotten who this guy was–I think an artist who’d contributed a whole bunch of things–but Chilkat and I felt friendly toward him. Oh, and this was my first opportunity to wear the blue top I’d just finished knitting.
Try as we might, we couldn’t get the horse go go anywhere. Relative of Rocinante, I’m sure.
Big Rock Garden is a really peaceful, serene place with dozens of little surprise nooks and bits all over the place.

Following that came good old familiar Lake Padden Park, just down the street from me, where we discovered to our dismay that all playground equipment is roped off. However, there were still ducks, and a few guys shore fishing, reflections to notice how light changes the way color looks, trees to climb, and lots of space to run around… and we had Thai food! So we ate! And ate!

The palpable disappointment of roped-off playground equipment.
Social distancing before lunch. At least it was sunny!
The kind young man on the left didn’t even blink an eye when Chilkoot stepped on his fishing pole. (He has kids of his own.)
What child worth their salt (or sugar, or macaroni and cheese) sees a tree hanging out over the water and doesn’t climb out on it?
And I was very proud of the usually slightly shyer Chilkat for venturing out to where the tree bends up, too!
Even there, a few pine needles still showed the remnants of morning moisture.

After lunch, we went to Elizabeth Station, where no one took pictures because Snaotheus was focused (ha ha) on the bazillion kinds of craft beers that lined all the walls, hid in the coolers, and stacked up on displays throughout the store. He gets a little (sorry not sorry) hyperfocused that way when beer’s involved. We sat out in the sun and drank beer/juice according to preference while watching the sun sparkle off the waters in the bay before Snaotheus loaded a quarter-ton of newly purchased beer into KrisDi’s new car.

Then down we drove to Fairhaven Park, past which I have driven dozens if not hundreds of times, and every time I’ve thought, “I have to go check out that labyrinth one of these days.” Today was that day!

We grown-ups, setting a good example, followed all the pathways from the outside to the center, but the littles suffered no such sense of propriety or order. They just ran all over it however their feet took a notion to run. Chilkoot apparently thought it looked a bit like some computer game (I’m guessing, here) and giggled that we’d probably find a demon in the middle. I laughed and explained that it was actually intended as an aid to prayer, so it was unlikely any demons were going to jump out and grab us.

Chilkoot in the middle, Chilkat walking a path or two.
The center of the labyrinth, which is actually quite nice. I keep meaning to go back and do it properly.
But we all know parks are meant for horsing around, so Chilkoot showed us a handstand…
… and a cartwheel, start to
finish. (Some days they go a little better than others; he’s getting really good at them!)
Here is my formal portrait for 2020. It’s supposed to show the wisdom of age, deep thought, and sober evaluation of a life. A lot of us look funny that way these days.

By the time the children had finished running around and climbing and jumping and leaping and all the other things that it exhausts adults to watch children do, we were hungry. Of course! So we drove over to Fairhaven and had Fat Pie pizza–outside, on our own level of the restaurant with no one’s germs but our own. Lovely afternoon, bit of a sea breeze, not too hot or cold.

It’s pretty good pizza, but not as good as KrisDi’s gen-yoo-wine hand-crafted Chicago deep-dish pizza–and then some Acme ice cream that came with a 15% off coupon. Yay for discount ice cream! (Though it was nowhere near as good as Mallard‘s… next time, next time!) (I later had four meals from the leftover pizza and Thai food that S&K didn’t want to take home with them. Yum.)

All too soon, the day drew to a close. The kids colored on my driveway and the street with some chalk. We looked around a bit for the alligator lizards, who were hiding. The bunny didn’t want to come out and the chipmunks were hiding, too. Chilkat was highly suspicious of my very, very sweet but also very tiny alpine strawberries, which don’t look at all like the ones she’s used to from the store. And nothing else edible was showing, so that was a bust. We did some more towel-insulated hugging, everyone climbed into their new car, and we waved bye-bye as they drove off, more parallel to than into the sunset, but off they drove, anyway.

Yep. Definitely a terrific day! And none of us got sick!

Oh! I’m forgetting something? You feel cheated because that top photo hasn’t been explained? You haven’t figured it out? That’s a translucent panel on the ceiling of the covered eating level where we had our pizza. With a seagull on it. The panel, not the pizza. I love this picture, with the silly bird’s splayed-out bright orange feet taking center stage, so you get it inflicted on you again. Why not?! It’s a weird year full of weird things!

Posted by wordsmith


Ah! Tell her thank you–I wondered about that, simply because of the length of her forearms, but it looked convincing and I still can’t recognize knuckle protrusions. Just looks like bunched fabric to me.

I can’t imagine where my granddaughter and your and KrisDi’s daughter could possibly have gotten a love of correcting people. Really, I can’t.

Chilkat was sitting with me when I read this and wanted to correct you on one point (as you know, she dearly loves to correct people): The hands in the hammer and chisel sculpture are not hollow, she tucked her hands inside her sleeves and put them up against the sculpture. If you look carefully at her left arm, you can see her knuckles pressing through her sleeve.

Nice post, Mom! Thank you. We had a good time, too!

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