The air in the shade is chilly. I've returned to Osage Park for a walk. Ten years ago I walked here every day at 7 a.m. after dropping our son at high school. The park gave me solace and time to recapture my day.
The park has a circle of trees to walk through. They gave me strength and comfort. In the years of walking the circle, I noticed the change of seasons as well as the daily changes around the circle as I completed several loops of the park. The park moved from Spring's lush blooming in the rose gardens to Summer's soccer and baseball games to the quieter times of Autumn, and finally, to the dry, gray Winter when a mountain lion stalked deer in the creek next to the trail.
Today I walk mid-day. The trees have grown, but they still provide calmness. I pass dog walkers, runners, and people who use the path as a serenity circle, heads down, lost in thoughts. I know, I have walked the circle this way myself.
A large lawn mower shrieks in the distance. The driver turns off the engine and the park is still for a moment. Then small birds twitter and a robin calls a one-note song. As I come round the circle I turn to see my favorite sight: the park grasses spread out like an alpine meadow, the trees masking the suburban view, and the rolling hills and Mt. Diablo in the distance.
I walk around the front of the school and spot graffiti on a cement pillar. Someone has sprayed a red heart on the column. A tree's shadow crosses out the heart. I laugh and think, "A perfect metaphor for life in middle school."
I continue around the circle, pass the nubs of pruned rosebushes, walk by baseball diamonds and the closed snack shop until I come to the children's playground -- empty of people and clatter at this time of the year.
As I walked out of the park, I thought about my years of walking Osage Park. Our son is 25 now. He is a young man who is navigating his way into adulthood. Eventually I stopped walking in circles and tried other paths. I looked at the park one more time with gratitude for what it had offered me ten years ago, and I left refreshed.