In the park I am a nobody. A nothing. A part of the foliage, the cut grass, the dirt and twigs. Invisible to the human eye as they pass by with pushchairs and dogleads or sit on the bench midway round hunting Pokemon on their pocket computers. My attention rarely lingers on these hopeless creatures unless a particularly special moment catches my eye. The woman blowing bubbles for her German Shepherd to catch while a small girl watches. Or the elderly lady I saw in the spring sat so quietly and contemplatively on the bench beneath the cherry blossom tree, a confetti of pink showering her delicately with each small push of the breeze.
But no, the people are to be casually avoided with their nuisance and noise and peculiar ways. It’s the canine and tree population I wish to capture in memory. I watch the dogs play and interact with one another, baffled by the wonder in the face of an animal enamoured with a smelly coloured ball hurled down the hill. The hurtling energy of beast in pursuit of rubber prey. Or up on the path the small dog greeting the big dog with a wiggle and a nuzzle, then waiting so patiently and politely while the big dog sniffs his bum with unrestrained attention to detail. He is collecting your stories – what you ate for breakfast, what the neighbours cat smells like when it sits on the fence with a haughty stare, what illicit salt n vinegar treats the toddler lets you slobber on before eating herself.
But I am most happiest when amongst the trees. They overwhelm me with their calm, measured presence. The play of light through foliage. The creeping signs of autumn told to me by the auburn against the green. I listen to the wind rise through the leaves like distant applause. I enjoy the crack and thunk as the horse chestnuts throw their seeds to the ground. Shiny brown conkers encased in spiky green shells. The trees throw this perfect ammunition at us for fun and we laugh obliviously, collecting them for our children, so that they can join us in playing a game as old as time.