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Sunday in the Park

After a recent business project had a better outcome than expected for me, a professional acquaintance said, "You lead a charmed life." And I had to smile. After the weekend I’d had, I couldn’t have agreed more.

The all-too-physical reminder came Sunday evening when I was bit on the butt by a cougar. In my own living room, no less, and on my own couch. And OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly a bite but when I sat down and the hard plastic toy that had been hiding between the seat cushions somehow sprang out and found my not-so-firm rear end, I jumped as if something living had made contact. When I discovered the cougar was the culprit, I had to laugh. My grandson, Axel, had made those zoo animals his toys of choice Sunday morning. I thought they had all made their way back to the toy chest but it appeared there was one renegade. I got up to remove the cougar only to discover a cache of critters carefully hidden in the cushions. There were lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

Saturday had been a full-on grandkid day. First Tyler, my daughter’s two year old, came to play while his parents took in the new "X-Men" movie. We ran around the yard until the wind came up and then we played with marbles and finally we were happily watching "Blue’s Clues" when the ‘rents came home. There was an overlapping hour of a little cousin love, when Izzie and Axel came up with their folks who planned to have a quiet dinner on Main Street sans offspring. We ran around and played with puzzles and ate hot dogs and mac and cheese. A meal, I might add, I would never serve my own children because of my own violent dislike of mac and cheese. The only time they ate that stuff was when they had a sitter. Which, of course, made them love the nights they had a sitter. Revenge, or more accurately, irony, can be rather sweet and sticky. The kids always want mac and cheese at Oma’s house when I watch them. Despite my trying to introduce other food groups. My own children find this hilarious.

Dessert took overnight. I found one of those great plastic gadgets where you pour in your own beverage and then stick in the plastic tops and viola! You have an instant popsicle. Not so instant, as Izzie and I discovered. The damn things filled with lovely lemonade refused to freeze up. So, as in all good family traditions, we ate them for breakfast. The kids giggled and their parents had the good sense to let the rules remain different at Oma’s house.

When they left midday, I was wiped out but, oh, so happy. I gathered up what I thought were all the toys, loaded up the dishwasher again and lay down on the floor in the sun to read The New York Times. Where I promptly fell fast asleep. Somewhere in my dream there were cannons shooting off fireworks in gay profusion. See what a popsicle for breakfast will do? But the fireworks continued and continued until I realized there was something exploding outside my house. I rubbed my eyes and listened again and decided I needed to investigate.

Out in the circle of the cul de sac was a gaggle of children and adults and much squealing and laughter. And bright colors floating in the air. Turns out one of the parents had been given a kind of firework thingy that instead of shooting out bright sparks shot out long colorful streamers. When I ambled over onto the grass, one of the kids came up concerned. "Did we wake you from your Sunday nap?" he asked. I had no idea I was a creature of such well-known habits. I feigned disbelief, "No, no, I was reading," I replied. Which was how I had started my nap after all. He smiled. Don’t ever think you’re fooling kids.

The circle around the grassy middle of our cul de sac had children on bikes, children running with the streamers, children sitting on the grass. All the young parents were visiting, the dogs were hangin’ and even though I am the old broad in the purple house on the corner, I felt lucky to be sharing the moment. That’s when one of the smallest girls — was it Frannie? Or maybe Raj — brought over a purple streamer to me with all the reverence of a just-picked flower. "Here, because you wike burple." And I do wike burple. In fact, I took the streamer home and attached it, up high, to the iron hook that holds the birdfeeder right off my porch.

Later that warm evening, I wandered outside again, to look at the faded sky doing that orange to purple transition and something caught the corner of eye, down by my tiny garden fence. I stepped off the porch to investigate. Tied along the iron fence posts were maybe half a dozen purple streamers.

It was that exact moment I knew my colleague had been right. I do lead a pretty charmed life. Sometimes it might have to do with my work, but almost always, if I pay attention, it is right at home on so many days like this past Sunday, in the Park&


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