A freakishly warm January day...65 degrees F at 5:30 p.m. Would the park be overflowing with joyful joggers and climate-change celebrants, I wondered? Perhaps earlier, perhaps elsewhere...but on the Parade Grounds, the still-early darkness gave the lie to illusions of springtime. The avenue between the playing fields was utterly deserted between Caton and Parkside Avenues. I checked over my shoulder, recalling wisdom from a rougher era: You are safe when completely alone; it's the isolated bit of "company" that raises the alert. So I slowed my pace.
Near the glowing blob of the tennis bubble, light lingered in the west through broken clouds. The honk and cackle of innumerable geese arose from somewhere in the dark...as agitated as if they were on the floor of a slaughterhouse. I wonder what laundry challenges await players on that artificial turf thanks to goosey gatherings.
I hate the tennis bubble--not only because I don't play tennis, but because it rises every year as a harbinger of cold, inclement weather. Tonight it was superfluous, but you don't just pop these open and shut on a whim. I heard no thwacks or curses or shouts of victory within.
Near the Park Circle entrance to Prospect Park proper, a lone jogger and one dog-walker passed, and a young man with a guitar case sat scrolling through his phone. The air was fragrant with fresh pine mulch from the recent Christmas Tree Slaughter (at which point I realized that I had slaughter on the brain, a legacy of the 1980s when walking in deserted park perimeters).
Inky branches and fence, etched against the bubble's weird glow. I walked home past the police station within the Parade Grounds, which felt no safer for the fleet of NYPD cruisers that flanked me. A rat scuttled across my path into the shadows.
On a spring or summer night, it seems that half of Brooklyn is out in the Parade Grounds, hanging out by this snack bar, putting the spin on a soccer ball, skating, running. But tonight, no one was fooled.