prose sketch: post-picnic in Confederation Park

Thu. 17 Oct 2013 ca. 1:00 p.m. Confederation Park, Burnaby

We’ve just had our lunch at this concrete picnic table: turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and lettuce, and sharing a can of Sanpellegrino orange pop.

It’s a sprawling park, mostly empty of people on this fine day. Only a few trees dot the wide spaces devoted to play: a playground before us with brightly colored plastic components, a dormant water-park, a basketball court. Off to our left, a lacrosse box; beyond this immediate set of things, a soccer pitch ringed by a terracotta running track, around which a handful of separate people plod like zombies. But there are further playgrounds too, further pitches: a baseball field, more soccer spaces, and vacant swaths of lawn. I suppose it was a munificent setting-aside of public space in 1967 for citizens thought of as aspiring to fitness and healthy socializing. Now, just after lunch break during the school term, there is a sense of rural vastness and depopulation.

A power tool grinds somewhat off to the right—a hedge trimmer? A hammer smacks there as well—and a crow caws, flying by. Other than that, a thrum of traffic, out of sight beyond the trees. The plane-trees, maples, chestnuts are turning, yellow suffusing their foamy green. Leaves float gracefully down. There is the delicious, acrid, smoky smell of autumn. In a month these trees will be bare, and cold rain will fall from a sullen overcast. Now there is the memory of summer: but with a chill in the shadows, and the desert quality of a place from which people have already retreated indoors for the year.

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