An Ode to Baker Park
Sunshine drives down from the blue crystal sky in a shaft of warm energy. Clouds of every shape and size float by, transforming slowly from the outline of a tall ship to a one-eared chocolate bunny before eyes that have never seen such magic in the sky. The forms evolve, like the afternoon that brought me to the big green field in the center of Frederick.
Ding-dong, Ding-dong, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong … Ding-dong, Ding-dong, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong … DONG. Early afternoon. The bells at the center of the emerald expanse tell me all I need to know about what I should be doing today. The dogs walk beside me, yipping at the fat-kitty bumblebees who enjoy the lazy sunshine as much as us. Flying from one Baker Park corner to a bush, to a flower, to another flower, to a tree full of other fat-kitty bumblebees must be a pretty nice existence. I can get with it. It’s lucky my black lab, Chutney, doesn’t have more lift or better timing on her jumps. That would have been the end of one bumblebee’s lazy afternoon.
Walk past an empty bandshell. Empty for now. Echoes of instruments played many times. Horns, guitars, strings, drums, voices. Strung together on warm evenings like holiday lights are strung up in the winter. Those melodies remain because of large groups of Frederickers sitting together as the sunlight turns orange-red-pink-purple-navy-black on the horizons of the Frederick rooftops that surround the shell. All and any cares forgotten. Music and performances all together on the same stage, in the same place. Time is the only thing that separates them.
Up along the street. Smells come from mobile flavor laboratories. Looking up the row, I wonder about all the different dishes that have been cooked at each spot along the street. All the different plastic spoons licked and lusted after like a brand-new lover, and then thrown into the trash bin. Forgotten and discarded. Moving up the row, looking for that next plastic spoon. Quivering from the excitement of what it will hold. What can you put in my mouth? Will it be crunchy? Sour? Dense? Light? Salty? Melty delicious? Ohhhh God, maybe it will be a plastic fork? The echoes of long-ago finished culinary delights float over me like a fog of war.
Orbit, my pug, yanks me out of a full on stoopid-ass-drooling-slack-jawed gawk. Zoned out in the middle of the sidewalk, drooling, is no way to go through life. She pulls me into a patch of bright sunshine. Smells of past, present and future recipes and experiments. The brightness of the sunshine, a promise of something new to munch on.
Meandering up the grass, up over a hill, past some diamonds dotted with bases. Backstops. Sounds of kids playing with the promise of an ice-pop or a custard cone. Up a green hill over past the pool. Those same kids diving into the cold water to escape the hot air. Both of sun and parents. Cerulean waves in a pool dotted with relaxation. Marco? Polo!
Frederick, you’re incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful place in the center of your community. Baker Park lets you know what time it is. All Day, Every Day. Make sure you listen.