After six inches of snow, with screaming north winds as a chaser (as in, blew down a veterinary clinic in a small town, tipped over portable buildings, sent lawn furniture into another state the long way) the wind stopped, the sun shone, and people with kids and spouses chased them out of the house.
As I set out on my walk, thee or four dog-walkers were out and about with one or more charges on the leash. “Amble” seemed the pace of choice, and I passed a few as I strode along. Kids played basketball on other things in yards and on driveways. I could hear the chaos of soccer practice from one park. Twenty minutes or so later, as I got closer to another park, the “clang” of a softball bat meeting ball rang out. The wind was light, and brought the sound up the block.
Two-thirds of the park-park (as opposed to school-grounds-treated-as-a-park) had kids playing, chasing balls, swinging bats, or just doing kid things. Smaller children covered the playground equipment. Adults coached, cheered, rescued stuck toddlers, or just walked around the park, with or without dogs. Several folks with houses facing the park had cars or other projects out and worked on them, occasionally tossing back a stray little-kid ball. It’s been quite a while since good weather and no-restrictions combined, and so people were making the most of it.
In other words, the scene was absolutely normal. Blessedly normal. Kids were kids, dogs played in doggy ways, and adults smiled at both. As the sun sank closer to the western horizon, the teams folded their gear and departed, the dog-walkers went home, and hints of rose and gold appeared in the sky as wispy cirrus feathers caught the first hint of sunset. Long shadows became solid twilight, and house lights flickered on one at a time, here and there. The air cooled, even as I pushed uphill toward home. The day birds settled into their roosts, while a hint of an owl’s call reached my ears. The air smelled dry, but not dangerously so, laced here and there with smoker scent (oak and mesquite), and the perfume of a burnt meat offering.
The kids were all inside, and garage doors closing when I reached RedQuarters. True twilight darkened the sky, and one last hawk flapped overhead, headed for his evening’s repose. The wind murmured out of the south, not too strong yet. The first star of evening appeared, oh so faintly, if I looked to the side. The night shift had begun.