What man has made of man

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, March 27, 2007 |

Every kid in the neighborhood was out in the park last night: two preteen girls practiced pitching a baseball, two elementary-aged sisters trudged through cedar chips on roller skates, watching Juniper and her friend who's a mere two weeks younger than her surreptitiously exchanging the toys they brought with them in full denial of the fact that they were sharing. More kids showed up, all girls. The only kids missing were the internationally-famous techno DJ's daughters (they were staying with their grandmother in another part of town). At one point, every kid from the neighborhood sat on the spinning merry-go-round. And no one fell off. I attribute this to our neighborhood's lack of boys.

Dogs chased down the things their masters had thrown for them. Old ladies were out there walking, some with old husbands. New mothers pushed strollers filled with babies that might have never seen seventy-five degrees and sunny. The air was pungent with smoking mesquite and hickory and pork, while young black men hovered over the wobbling air of barbecue grills and their kids took turns driving one of those miniature motorized hummers up and down the sidewalk. Two male robins danced in midair, grasping and clawing one another, squabbling over a female. Two college-aged girls shed their sleeves and emerged from their homes for a walk in the kind of tank tops and short shorts only college-aged girls, blissfully ignorant and robust in their youth, can get away with. Juniper was wearing sandals and that dress she wore at the Utah salt flats. The fact that we could now see more of her legs ensured us that our miniature child was, indeed, growing. Even here in downtown Detroit, where some would consider it child abuse to raise a kid, our daughter was growing into her own person.

There was not a single leaf on any tree, but there were flowers that had managed to bloom in the course of a few hours, after a wet and muggy morning. The first thing I did yesterday was shave off my miserable winter beard. Wearing a ridiculous Morgan Spurlock mustache, I then took the kid and the dog out for a walk. Juniper wore her new boots for an activity she likes to call "puddle trouble." It is exactly how it sounds, but much to her consternation the dog is far better at it than she is. She picked up a frail twig and told me she had a "mighty stick." Ever since the incident with the wild dogs, she has been obsessed with mighty sticks. By the time we returned from our walk through the park later that evening to get Stroh's ice cream, after eleven hours above seventy degrees, I could already feel the stubble of my beard growing back.

All day I had a strange urge to refill our birdfeeder and start gardening.

I am not a man to grow sentimental about the weather. Ordinarily I loathe the cold because it keeps me inside and I resent the sun for making me feel guilty about missing a moment of it. San Francisco weather suited me well. But in five years, this is the first time I have seen the spring. And to see all these people together, so different but all so similarly thrilled simply with the sun on their skin, here together defying the sense of a city that has spread to everyone who doesn't live here. You will, I hope, indulge me if I enjoy it for just a moment.