It’s a hot evening in early May. I’ve got two scoops of butter pecan ice cream in a cone. I’m working pretty fast to keep up with the melting drips. Though not as fast as my son is working to keep up with his mint chip, which looks about the size of his head. My daughter is still wary of cones after a dip fell off last summer, so she’s got some blue moon in a bowl. Good idea.
We’re sitting on the grass behind The Chief, with about 20 other people, some of them at the tables. There must be close to 50 more in line out front. It’s the longest line I’ve ever stood in at The Chief, but that’s what you get when it’s hot out, and a gorgeous evening, and you made a promise to your kids. I’m not complaining though — it’s well worth it.
There are a handful of kids running around, playing in the grove of trees over in the back corner. These are tall, slender trees, which grow up 40 to 50 feet into the air. There are probably about 15 trees, growing very densely, some of them right next to each other, some of them with trunks that are growing together. The tight spaces and the tiny alcoves they create between each other make a perfect play space for kids (and occasionally adults): great for tag, hide and seek, make-believe houses. I know I’ve personally been involved in all of these games at these trees, as well as Star Wars, Little House on the Prairie, fairy woods and some strange amalgamation of all of those, which only a kid can dream up.
My kids are watching the other kids, too, and I can tell they are thinking almost as much about playing as they are about the work in hand.