Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now

The sidewalk into the kids’ daycare is in a sheltered little alcove, a divot in the architecture of the building. The kids emerge each evening, glittering like peacocks against the brown of prudent government building plans, sending their caws and squeals into the buttoned-down fast walk of commuters rushing to be in position for the impatient Metrobus.

At the end of the alcove, just before our peacocks enter the government-worker jetstream, the monolithic building reasserts itself. Prudently, its drab foundation is camouflaged by a row of bushes that one never really cares to notice from the sidewalk. I’m not in the bush-unnoticing majority, though, because I have a peacock who loves to play explorer.

The shrubbery grows about a foot out from the building. A liminal flagstone path hovers between man-made and man-planted, intended, probably for mere maintenance workers attending to drainage or sealants or physical plant concerns, not chlorophyllic plant concerns.

My daughter is no maintenance worker (yet) but she loves a secret narrow path.

And so on days when we’re not hurrying straight to the car or burdened by the heat or cavorting with the other flashy young things, she’ll look at me sometimes. Sideways. Slyly.

Mama, can I go?

And on days when I can, I nod. Yes. She travels down the path, impossibly long to her, and I know because she’s never popped out the other end but paused always at some invisible buoy and returned from whence she came. It’s 150 or 200 very narrow vanishing-point-swallowing feet; I don’t know; distances aren’t my thing.

What I do know is this: it’s narrow and it’s verdant and it’s private in a public space. It’s an urban-federal secret garden. And to my second child, it’s enchanting.
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