Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Naomi: Looking for a Park

November '08
It was a sunny day and we were on a hunt to find a new playground. Mom had looked at a map which indicated there would be a playground at Angel and Greyhound Meadow, in the St. Clement’s area of Oxford. That wasn’t too far from home, so we set out on a Friday morning for an exploring adventure.

Even though it was a bit of a walk (25-30 min.) we each found a stick on the way and had fun pretending they were swords or walking sticks. When we got to the busier part of town, Mom had to keep reminding us not to play swords because so many people were walking by us. She also was a little worried we’d fall in front of a car or bus if we weren’t paying attention.

Mom guided us through an alley and a parking lot, over a little bridge, and we saw the meadow, just beyond a copse of trees. Yay! We love running and jumping in woods and grass. I was so excited!

I had not taken too many steps into the grass, however, when I realized this was very WET grass. And a few steps further indicated I was walking in MUD. Mom saw the mucky state of the ground and apologized to me, saying that this meadow must be a floodplain. (I know all about floodplains because we walk through one every time we take the footpath through University Parks into town. And I’ve seen light flooding there!)

My brothers, mom, and I own “wellies” (rain boots) but we hadn’t worn them on this adventure. We thought we’d just be playing in a playground. The rest of my family was wearing sneakers, but unfortunately for me, I was wearing socks and crocs. Yes, well, I can tell you now that mud squishes into crocs VERY quickly. My feet were immediately wet, cold, and dirty. Yuck!

Mom took pity on me during the worst bits and pushed me in the stroller (which Ethan had vacated for the obvious pleasure of squishing through mud!) We eventually made it to the other side and walked along the edge of the meadow, which was slightly less muddy than the middle. I thought our “adventure” was a failure until I saw the river.

Ah, flowing water. There are so many things one can do next to a river. Josiah and I used our sticks to stir muddy water by the banks, pretending we were making chocolate milk. Ethan tried to throw leaves into the water, but mostly the wind would blow them right back onto him! We threw pebbles in, comparing splashes and sounds. We even cheered Mommy on as she lugged a great big huge branch, and flopped it into the water. It didn’t move at first, but we nudged it with our sticks and then watched it slowly go downstream.

Mom told us about currents, wind and gravity. We learned that the water going down the middle of the river moves more quickly than the water on the banks of the river. We could see that clearly, since there were so many fallen leaves on the river’s surface. And remembering the bad effects of pollution, I was determined to get an empty beer can out of the water near the bank. Using two sticks, Mom and I managed to do it!

Now, remember how I said we were looking for a playground? Behind some trees, Mom spied a fence. And since playgrounds here are always fenced in, we happily ran through the trees, sure we’d found what we were looking for. Imagine our disappointment when we got close enough to realize that the playground had long ago been dismantled. All that remained was a fenced-in patch of grass and a lonely bench. Not a play-thing in sight.

Oh well. We had lots of fun by the water, and despite my wet feet, I knew the adventure had been worth it. In addition to the fun, I learned two important things: 1) it’s always wise to walk along the edge of a meadow, instead of through the center, and 2) I should always have my wellies with me!

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