When I was a kid I went to summer day camp at a local park in town, the same town Bill lives in now. The park had a large lake with long wooden dock; we’d take a running start and cannonball into the water. The ground was soft and mossy, not a surface I liked touching with bare feet. I imagined stepping on whatever I thought lived at the bottom of a lake when I was nine or ten. Turtles? Frogs? Sharks? A lifeguard sat perched in his chair, eyeing the water, ensuring our safety.
I remember wanting to bow out of a 4th of July parade the staff had arranged for the kids. A notice had gone home with us to dress in patriotic red, white and blue. I must have neglected to pass the notice along to mom and forgot to dress the part on parade day. The counselor assured me I fit in fine; I was probably wearing blue shorts and a white tee, good enough. We marched around the lake, wove in and around the building we made arts and crafts in, the pavilion we ate lunch on.
Bill and I went snowshoeing on the trails in that park on Sunday. Turning into the entrance an expansive play area butts up to the parking lot, an addition since I attended camp there. The swings, slides, tunnels are accessible to anyone regardless of disability or limitation and crowded with children in peak season; it was deserted on Sunday. Tennis courts sit next to the playground, also deserted; I don’t remember if they were there in the 70s or added later. Further in, dogs were running and playing with each other, mindless of the snow, their owners standing watch. A woman glided by us on cross-country skis, gave a wave, said the conditions were good.
We rounded the area where the lake is, made smaller by overgrowth, covered in snow. The lifeguard chair is still there, broken and rotted, hidden among a copse of trees, the dock gone. Two buildings still stand around the lake, graffiti covered and unused. We hike the trails year round, every time we do I look for the chair, reminisce about those summers, feel a slight pang of nostalgia. The added features make the park a destination spot for kids, adults, dogs. If only the rest hadn’t been neglected.