If we’re Facebook friends, you’ll already know from my posts that I spend some part of every day at a local park named Rady. Besides the children’s playground and covered gazebo with picnic benches, there is an oblong paved path around an open grassy area and the baseball field.
In addition, there is a dirt path through a garden section alongside a creek. So, it’s no surprise that Rady is a draw for walkers and runners, children, families, couples, and friends.
Not only do I walk there daily to exercise the dog and myself, but also to replenish my soul. Because love stories happen all around me.
If I visit the park mid-morning, I often see the young father who places his not yet 18-month old son by a stone bench and then moves 20 or so paces away. The dad says in an excited voice, “Are you ready?! Are you ready?! Get set, go!” And the child wobble-runs as fast as he can move those baby-fat legs toward his daddy who scoops him up into the air as soon as the boy is within catching distance.
Is there any sound more joyous than a child’s exuberant laughter?
Then dad sets the boy down with an instruction to go back to the starting point. And another round begins. “Are you ready?” Are you ready?”
They play this game half a dozen times or so. While the child physically tires out, I do not tire of watching them. I told the dad recently, “Watching you two makes my day.”
In the late afternoon, a man around my age gently leads his wife around the paved path. I don’t know if she’s a stroke survivor or has some other illness, but she doesn’t seem able to participate in the exchange of greetings. His tender patience in helping her around to get exercise in the fresh air is as sure a sign of love as I see.
In the early morning (my most typical time to be at Rady) a group of older gentlemen socially distance themselves around the center of the gazebo in chairs they bring from home. Usually, there are four who meet every weekday morning. Grace the beagle and I walk around the outside of their circle so they can give Grace a pat and inquire as to how her squirrel chasing is going.
It’s obvious that these men are good friends who honor the commitment to get up and out to visit for an hour. And if I happen to arrive after they’ve dispersed for the day, why, the next morning they tell me they missed us. I feel like an extension of their group. For this reason, I once took the guys some of my homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Frank, Milton, Joe, and Bill may not profess love for each other, but camaraderie is surely a form of love!
So yes, walking in the park is good exercise, and immersion in nature is good for the mind and body. But noticing the love feeds my soul.