‘I’ll beat you’ I hollered as we raced to the edge of the lake and powered our way toward a floating dock filled with youngsters wearing swimming attire popular in the late 1940’s.
The floating dock that inspired many swimming competitions as a kid.
Whose hand touched first was never the point. It was the challenge driving us into the water, swimming to reach what appeared to be a distant mirage. Neither would quit if the other continued to swim. Sister rivalry pushed us forward, along with the unspoken desire to show off our talent to ‘older’ kids.
The late morning competition was the start of a day at the park. It was always perfect: temperatures climbing by the hour; kids, mostly cousins, chasing around patchy grass fields, family members sitting under scrawny shade trees, fried chicken, potato salad, watermelon, koolaid, and homemade cakes made it the summer pinnacle.
Memories of those long ago picnics bring a smile to my face, contentment to my soul, and a wistful desire to recreate the simpleness and joy of a day at the park.
The little known state sanctuary is near an even lesser known southeastern Oklahoma town where I was born, and continue to emotionally call ‘home’. I haven’t lived there in 70+ years, yet the park remains my refuge, my inner touchstone for peace.
When I return to this haven, I walk along the banks of the river seeing it through the eyes of an 8 year old, reliving those magical instances, feeling the excitement of a child, forgetting today’s adult realities.
I send a toast to those who lived before, our forebearers who set aside space where we can dream, play, and remember. That’s what parks do for humanity: soothe our souls and house our memories.
See more park contributions at https://weeklyprompts.com/2019/08/14/word-prompt-parks/