My grandson borrowed his Dad’s “O” (U of O) hat and he was ready to go. But his Oregon grandma required a little more time than that in order to fill the backpack with water bottles, sunscreen, a trail mix bar, cell phone, handkerchief, camera, lip balm and coin purse. My wide-brimmed hat was planted on my head, chin strap cinched down, sandals buckled. Ayden wasn’t sure he appreciated the idea of having to walk to the park today, and I was a little concerned myself. He preferred riding in the car, but today there was no car available. And it is out of my comfort zone to explore a neighborhood I’m not familiar with when the temperature is due to reach 100°. Definitely out of my comfort zone! But this day was a “new beginning” day, my first day in San Angelo with 7-year-old Ayden.
When we headed down the road it didn’t take long for me to become swarmed with memories of my childhood in El Paso. I’d forgotten about the heat and the days spent in our tiny plastic pool, and everyone moving at a slower pace. Not long after we crossed the street we found a marble and a plastic golf ball, and Ayden pushed them down deep into his pocket. Those would be treasures we would play with later when I got out the marble shooters I’d brought.
We explored an empty lot that bordered a small lake, walked on the curb, took water bottle breaks, arrived at the park to find a committee of vultures picking apart the carcass of a cat, made silly noises in the play structure’s megaphone, shared the trail mix bar, rested in the shade of trees I don’t know the names of and sat on grass that is coarser than ours at home.
Heading home we counted the streets to mark our progress. We stopped often to sit on a curb and wipe the sweat off our red faces. I remarked that there seemed to be far more red trucks in Texas than in Oregon, and far fewer blue or brown ones. And I thought possibly fewer people take walks in Texas. But then, these observations came only after one day in San Angelo.
After we cooled off in the air conditioning we made the treasures we found into a game to occupy even more of our together time. I stacked up the pop cans, placed the feather on top with the plastic golf ball, and he shot the marble and sent them flying.
One thing great about being a grandma - more freedom to play!