By Phineas J. Stone
Absent the past couple of days, this has been a fall of exquisite proportions.
We had such a rainy summer that the colors in the trees have been almost hallucinogenic.
Fall is always my favorite time of year, and for no other reason than the bustle in the streets and the sounds of children playing at the school playground or the park.
You don’t get the sounds of children playing out in the ‘burbs. Things are so far spread apart and all the houses are new and soundproofed. That means the only sound inside is silence.
In my place, though, the old windows let in the youthful laughs and screams of kids having a ball in the fall.
A cup of Salada tea in the afternoon.
The sound of kids playing.
Maybe the furnace cranking up in the background if it’s a crisp day.
My old Chelsea Clock on the mantle ticking along and keeping good time.
Those are times when the minutes last an eternity, and I shudder at the thought of the ice-cold days ahead.
The sound of children playing in the parks is rather new around here, believe it or not. Last weekend, I had the good occasion to wander into one of the great downtown neighborhood parks here and found it just overflowed with little ones and their parents.
It was alive.
It was a place for playmates to gather and parents to commiserate.
It was the exact reason we have parks like that in dense, urban neighborhoods.
It wasn’t long ago that the parks were uninhabitable for young people. They were too dangerous and full of drugs, broken glass and unspeakable things. These were parks in our very neighborhood that is now so prosperous. I recall one young girl finding a bloodied knife on the slide many years ago in a nearby park and no one ever went back.
The schoolyards also frequently didn’t send their kids out for one reason or another – depending on what kind of dysfunction was happening outside on the streets.
So it is that the refreshing sounds of youthful exuberance is a new phenomenon with my afternoon, cheap-o cup of tea.
I had a friend years back that would always show up at the public meetings to complain about the parks.
“These parks are an abortion!” he would yell time and again.
Of course, he didn’t refer with that term in the sense of ending a pregnancy, but rather in it’s alternate meaning of “unpleasant or badly carried out.”
It always got attention; rarely got action.
I suppose it was about 10 years ago that I started hearing the children’s voices outside. At first, I was a bit of a curmudgeon about it; I didn’t like it. It used to be silent. Slowly, I grew into it and remembered back to a time when that is all you heard anywhere around here.
Kids had gone away – had been driven away. How refreshing it is to hear they’re back.
- • • • I’ve been following the ordeal with the LandWave in Peters Park. It’s almost comical the bureaucracy that stands in the way of getting rid of a dangerous thing that’s hurting people.
I remember seeing it when it first went out and noting that it was a bad choice for a place where kids run and climb. Being made of glass, it was doomed from the start. But now everyone wants it gone for more than a year, but City Hall’s old cranking machine can’t get the gusto to send it adios.
I brought this up to a friend of mine over in Charlestown recently.
He said two words.
“What?” I said.
“Bury it,” he said. “Get a truck, go in some evening and just dump several cubic yards on top of it until it’s gone. Bury it. Then plant some flowers on top of it. Problem solved.”
Now there’s a solution that I can dig.