Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Fields

The park next door was huge. It had a field that sported an ice rink in the winter, a basketball court, a sandbox skirted by a lovely stone wall, swings, a slide and a chalet that was a modernist dream. Literally next door. We lived on the end of a road, park to the side, train tracks out back. We moved away when our family friends moved to a deeper suburb. We moved with them and never saw them again. Don't do what your friends do.
    The train tracks separated our park from an even larger park, the one with the swimming pools. We would make the trek in the summer, cross the tracks, pick berries along side them and go hang out in the pool. Not running, swimming and splashing. Take a shower before you get in, another after you get out. Chlorine tang. Warm puddles on the sun hot concrete surrounding the pool. Teenagers being jerks with their Speedos and blurry tattoos. I never once dove off the diving board. I'd jump off it but belly flopped too often to get the hang of it. The occasional cannonball but I was a small kid. No great effect. I only dove properly last year. Off a dock into a lake. It took all my nerve.
    Next to the park on the other side of the tracks was a very large swath of park land. Forest. We'd go rarely, weeds and trees and the remains of forts and parties. We thought we found a leg bone once but were unsure. Caribou bones in Ville St-Laurent ? We could easily get lost there in those woods. We were too young to make a habit of going in.
    The park right next door had an adjacent field to it as well. Not as big as the forest. We called it 'the fields'. There, in the fields, we'd go often. It was a semi wild land, undeveloped, trees and reeds. There was a shallow ravine ideal for bike tricks. It would fill with water and freeze over in the winter. I tried crossing once only to break through the ice and go waist deep in cold water. My jeans frozen rigid when I was helped out.
    Scraps of Playboy magazines were found in the fields. The detritus of bigger kids. We would collect these water logged scraps and treasure them into illegibility. Multiple creases hiding any skin. The fields eventually became part of the park, cleaned up, manicured, a simple green land to cross on the way to the bus stop. If we were teens when we lived next to the fields we easily would have went bad. The wilderness, no matter how small, calls you over to the untamed life of bonfires and bicycle jumps, broken bottles and shredded magazines.
    We missed out on the full potential the fields had to offer.