Meadow Park, Springfield

Is there a name for those median-strip like concrete things in the middle of apartment building parking lots? Mostly they are covered in grass, but at the Imperial Arms across from the park they all contain little vegetable gardens. The Imperial Arms itself has kind of gone to seed, so it’s appropriate that there is corn growing in the parking lot. These pockets of renegade food production make me feel very happy.

Cat poop consumed: no

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Meadow Park, Springfield

It sometimes helps on days like this to imagine a different fate as a way to jumpstart the sluggish biorythms. What if I’d been born into a New England preppy family and this morning I’m walking my twin golden retrievers, Brandy and Brooks, on the path that follows the rocky Maine coast where we have our summer cottage. I’ll go sailing later and admire how straight my hair is, even with the spray and humidity. In the evening I’ll enjoy civilized cocktails on the porch and laugh in a throaty, well-bred fashion. I would be stylish and idle and interesting in my espadrilles, instead of being a 41-year-old knocked up woman in an orange poncho doing a lame 20-minute walk with a pair of poop-eating dogs.

Cat poop consumed: yes

Meadow Park, Springfield

A little blond sprite trotting unaccompanied down the sidewalk challenges my capacity for intervention. Fortunately she stopped at the corner and called to me for help crossing the Parkway. Where are you going? I asked. To get my bus for school. I want to hold this big dog. I am very strong. We settled to wait on the curb under the fig tree by the parking lot. Don’t you usually have a grown up who comes with you? She still had all her baby teeth and shoes on the wrong feet. I can go by myself. But if my arch enemy is here today I’ll have to run in front of her to get on the bus first. Ramona lay down at her feet while Jones explored the possibility of breakfast  traces on the girl’s face. She told me about Chico, her grandpa’s weener dog with the blue collar, and staying at home alone when her mom has to work and her mom’s “boyfriend” (she actually made air quotes) has the day off. I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and if I make any mess in the kitchen I get in big trouble. A frantic young man appeared. The bus came 45 minutes ago. No school today. She cried. I cried.

Cat poop consumed: no

Half of Meadow Park, Springfield

The dogs already got a good walk earlier this afternoon up and around Kelly Butte, so this one was just a tune up, for us too, after an hour or so playing Scrabble down in the smoke at Jim’s Landing. I challenge you to incorporate as many of our words as you can, L. said, his tone like an axe slicing the bonnie night air. Are we really out of all alcohol, I asked, the need for it cutting a trough through me like teeth. How you dote on a glass of wine, L. said, leaning toward F St. The Bungalow is open until 10, and it’s only a quarter ’til. Let’s head over there and set our landing gear to set down on the Bungalow tumac. Um, tarmac? Despite my haze, I saw through his word torsion, and considered the meager sum in my pocket. With poise, I waited outside for L. to make the transaction, the dogs pre-empting the leer of loiterers.

Meadow Park, Springfield

I figure there is enough anxiety and effluvium in today’s modern society without the added distasteful details of my dog’s daily cat poop consumption. So I’ve decided to discontinue that feature of the doglog. His affection for it seems abundantly clear, and it seems safe to assume that he will continue to consume it at least 50% of the time. That said, a dog keeps one close to the essentials of our common animal existence: food, exercise, sleep, lovin’, fascination with death, excretions. For example, as we crossed the Parkway we encountered another of its victims, a flattened squirrel. I hoped Jones would remember his earlier dead squirrel encounter and realize he should stay the hell away from busy streets, but instead he picked it up to carry it home. I guess the squirrel was so flat, so far from its squirrelness, that it had become food-like to him, i.e., not scary & very necessary. And indeed, it did resemble jerky.

Meadow Park, Springfield

A morning for similes: The maple trees emerge from the fog like flaming sticks of cotton candy; our breath steams like smoke; it’s cold like wet towels on naked skin in a shivery basement; giant sunflowers hunch like hooded dementors. Otherwise, it was a utilitarian spin, not like a real walk, more like hanging laundry, like brushing teeth, me rushing around like a business traveler in prep to spend two and a half hours driving to the conference.

Cat poop consumed: no

Meadow Park, Springfield

Springfield has its charms despite its seedy reputation, and I am blessed with several great parks in my neighborhood. I also think the Bungalow Market is charming, as well, but in a much different way. Mostly because I like to say the word bungalow. I listened to NPR’s pop culture podcast as we looped around the ballfield and tennis courts then past the playground and thought about the vast and unwieldy catalog of Warner Brothers films I have never seen, my capacity for consuming information nonetheless, and how it is that the corn can get so damn high in the little community garden next to the apartments.

Cat poop consumed: no