It had been an appalling morning: shoveling out the driveway again, driving through snow-choked streets to buy a new faucet at a plumbing-supply store (a cheerful Yuletide errand after a Bad Kitchen Event), and processing the realization that I was too dysfunctional this year to get Christmas cards out in time for, oh, Christmas. As on most days of 2009, as astute readers (presuming you exist) would have noticed, I simply did not have time to cross the street into Prospect Park.
But I did anyway. Well, at least as far as the Parade Grounds. I crunched across the frieze of sculpted tiny drifts, and the traffic noise quickly grew distant. The fences bisected the white into countless grids; for once, not even the hardiest soccer guys were out. The baseball fields lay muffled and pristine. The wind whistled across the picnic tables.
And I wondered what the hell happened. In 2008, when I started this blog as a little Julie-and-Julia style daily challenge, I dragged myself to the park and posted almost every day, and regretted not a single one of those visits. No matter how overscheduled, stupefied or anxious I was, and no matter how brief the encounter, the park made life profoundly richer and inarguably better. I spent a year less depressed, more fit, more curious. I trained for a bicycle century, made a beautiful Park calendar, and got covered in the New York Times. (Unlike Julie, I did not return home to an answering-machine tape full of book deal offers after my profile ran; but given the personal overshares in her follow-up book, maybe we should be careful what we wish for.) I figured that in 2009 I'd just sort of keep up the habit, without the pressure of the daily commitment, and keep this journal open to chronicle Year Two in the Park.
Instead, I backslid to my sluggish and avoidant ways. It was too hot, too cold, too rainy or too windy; I was too tired or busy. In fairness, I did more gardening this year; on many days, I had energy for one or the other but not both. But mostly, I just "didn't have time," surely the world's sorriest excuse for anything.
Prospect Park is my Narnia, an inexhaustible kingdom of beauty, mystery and occasional menace; and this past year, I seemed to grow too old and boring to play about in the back of the wardrobe as much as before. In 2010, I stand for being Lucy again, and starting out from the Lantern Waste to see how much time has passed me by.
Merry Christmas; I wish you a happy and healthy New Year; and I'll see you in the park.